Yesterday, we highlighted three draft targets the Cavaliers should consider.
At the top of the wishlist are plug-and-play shooters as well as team-oriented playmakers.
Now let’s check out who the Cavs might target in free agency to fill those same gaps.
1. JALEN BRUNSON
Before the Mavs-Jazz series began, some out there were quietly optimistic about Utah’s chances against a sans-Luka Dallas team.
Three games later, the Jazz are singing a different tune.
A critical reason the Mavs are up 2-1 on the Jazz has been the playmaking of Jalen Brunson.
Jalen Brunson’s last 3 playoff games:
– 41 Points, 8 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 60% FG
– 24 Points, 7 Rebounds, 5 Assists
– 31 Points, 5 Assists, 55% FG
About to get paid this off-season. 💰 pic.twitter.com/XqRKJltfoI
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) April 22, 2022
The Dallas guard has been absolutely sizzling through three games, averaging 32 points and five assists.
It’s no secret that Brunson is a star.
He was bandied about at the February deadline as a potential trade piece, but ultimately stayed put.
Now, teams like the Knicks are already booking front-row seats to see Brunson in action before he officially becomes a free agent this summer.
He’s exactly the sort of player the Cavs should swoop in for.
In addition to his offensive prowess (see above), he’s a hustler who doesn’t take possessions off on defense.
He would serve as an ideal backcourt partner with Darius Garland, bolstering the team’s playmaking ability.
And Brunson has proven his ability to play off-ball alongside a dominant, heliocentric point guard in Luka Dončić.
In Cleveland, he would have his choice of being a go-to option, or deferring to a surging Darius Garland, cutting Evan Mobley, or rolling Jarrett Allen.
And now, he’s getting real postseason experience, something the Cavs will desperately need in the near future.
It’s not hard to imagine: pregame, graphic tees laid out at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, emblazoned with “Brunson Burner” in big, brown and gold letters (can we get working on that trademark?).
2. Anfernee Simons
If the Cavs miss out on the Brunson sweepstakes, Portland’s Anfernee Simons would be an excellent consolation prize.
Before going down this season with a knee injury, the guard was developing into one of the league’s breakout stars.
After Damian Lilliard went down with his own injury issues, Simons stepped into the spotlight, or, more appropriately, grabbed it, averaging just over 17 points and nearly four assists on the season.
At 22, he also fits with this young Cavs team’s timeline.
In the same breath, that young age might make it hard for the Blazers to simply part ways with Simons, especially given the status of their own rebuild.
That said, if the Blazers do let him walk, Simons would make an excellent second option next to Darius Garland.
3. TJ Warren
After the 2020 playoff Bubble, the Pacers forward seemed destined for greatness.
His performance was so spectacular that some even dubbed him the “Bubble Michael Jordan.”
So where’s he been?
In and out of physical therapy.
He missed the entire 2021-22 season and played only four games the season before, his early 2020s thus far marred by injury.
But he put off a premature return to get healthy for the upcoming season.
TJ Warren (stress fracture) has made a full recovery but will sit out the rest of the season and prepare for next season, per @wojespn pic.twitter.com/4GYJ1jIjMb
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) March 17, 2022
So why not give him a one-year prove it deal?
He averaged 19.5 points a game on 39% shooting behind the arc as a Pacer.
He may not be the high-efficiency replacement for Lauri Markkanen the Cavs could stand to find, and that’s probably okay.
But what if he is?
Or what if he’s a back-up jolt of points that will keep the Cavs in games while Mobley, Garland, or Allen take a breather?
In either scenario, it’s a win for the team.
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