Filling In The Cavaliers 2023 Final Roster

August 6, 2023

Tony Camino

Looking into free agency and within to round out the roster

Around two months out, the Cavs’ roster isn’t expected to undergo significant changes between now and game one. However, there is still at least one spot left on the roster and approximately $9 million in cap space to work with. The recent news of Ricky Rubio stepping away from basketball alters the team’s strategy, and we extend our best wishes to Rubio for his personal well-being. Replacing the veteran presence in the locker room (if he doesn’t return) is crucial for the development of the younger players and could significantly impact the team’s depth.

  • Who will step up for Ricky Rubio? (if he doesn’t return)
  • Potential free agents to fill the last spot
  • What to do with Summer League Standouts

How they will fill the Rubio void

Losing Ricky Rubio is undoubtedly going to be a challenge, even though his role wasn’t likely to be as big as in 2021. His experience and wisdom are invaluable within a locker room filled with young players. While individuals like Darius Garland and Evan Mobley are progressing into the leadership roles they should, the presence of genuine veterans who can assist them in honing their leadership skills could very well be the most crucial intangible a player can contribute.

Craig Porter Jr. showcased impressive skills during the Summer League, and I’m eager to witness him receive opportunities for actual playing time in brief stretches throughout this year. Nevertheless, putting an undrafted free-agent point guard into the heat of the action right from the start might not be the most intelligent decision. While Caris LeVert is poised to manage the majority of playmaking responsibilities off the bench, the grueling 82-game season will require a diverse range of players stepping up throughout the year. Relying heavily on Porter Jr. to assume a significant playmaking role off the bench would be unfair to him in his first year, making it important to bring in a capable veteran to navigate the challenges of the season.

Familiar faces like George Hill and Raul Neto make sense for a return to fill that role, given that they offer cost-effective options capable of stabilizing the game when injuries begin to mount. Other potential candidates include Goran Dragic, who boasts extensive experience in various basketball environments, and Austin Rivers, who could also introduce another rotational dimension as a taller guard. Regardless, no veteran point guard should be expected to log 25 or more minutes per night, yet they can still fulfill one of the most crucial roles on the team.

Other free agents linked to Cavs

Of the big names still available, the ones who have been linked to the Cavs are Christian Wood, PJ Washington, and Kelly Oubre. These three guys are likely still available over a disagreement with the market over what their value is, and the Cavs are not a team with a ton of cap flexibility to give one of these guys what they want.

Oubre is a wing who would be perfect for this team, he has length, can shoot, and can slash to the rim. His latest season in Charlotte was wildly inefficient, but he still averaged 20 a game and is likely trying to cash in. Wood is a big man unlike any in Cleveland right now, as he’s an offensive-oriented player who can space the floor but will cause issues on defense. PJ Washington is an undersized big who can shoot and has seen big minutes with the Hornets the last couple of years. Unfortunately, he’s a restricted free agent, and I don’t see any situation where the Hornets don’t match an offer sheet of $9 million a year. While sign-and-trades are possible to make salaries work, I don’t see any of these guys getting signed without having to take significant pay cuts. If they were willing to do that before, they would already be on a contender and wouldn’t be free agents.

Summer League Standouts

With at least two roster spots available and limited cap space to maneuver, I anticipate Isaiah Mobley earning a full contract with the team. His performance in the summer league showcased the strides he has made in his game, and his unique skill set adds an additional dimension for big men coming off the bench.

Adding Mobley to the roster leaves only Craig Porter Jr. and Emoni Bates on two-way contracts. I believe both could benefit from gaining experience at both the NBA and G-League levels. Participating in the G-League not only facilitates their development but also affords them the chance to gauge their capabilities at the NBA level and refine their skills in the G-League.

With an extra two-way spot available, Sharife Cooper and Pete Nance emerge as the most probable candidates from the summer league, while other standout performers like Luke Travers continue to play overseas.

Final Thoughts

Losing Rubio stings, and I sincerely hope for his recovery during his time away from basketball. He brought a burst of energy off the bench and, even more importantly, assumed a significant leadership role for the youthful members of this team. Filling his position temporarily is imperative, both on and off the court. While any addition of a veteran point guard might not make headlines like a superstar acquisition, it can still add a profound influence on this team. Several free agents have been mentioned as potential candidates to fill the remaining roster spots, but it appears that they might exceed the Cavaliers’ budget. It is highly probable that the Cavaliers will transition Isaiah Mobley into a full-time contract and explore other options for veteran minimum signings if additional spots become available. The roster is nearly finalized, with just a couple of minor moves remaining to complete the team.

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