On Sunday, the Oklahoma City Thunder waived forward Isaiah Roby to open up a roster spot.
And as the Cavaliers continue to progress in free agency, should they have interest in the former second-round pick?
When Roby was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 2019, he signed a $1.5 million deal, the richest for a second-round pick to that point.
Roby was then shipped to Oklahoma City in 2020 for Justin Patton, where he quickly found footing in the Thunder’s rebuilding team.
But now that the Thunder have waived Roby, teams have a 48-hour window to claim the former Nebraska Cornhusker and his $1.9 million salary.
High Upside, Low Cost
Since his trade to Oklahoma City, Roby has developed a solid game.
He started roughly 58% of games for the Thunder over the last two seasons, but he would likely be a bench unit rotation piece on another team.
Further, Roby’s been a quality scorer over that stretch, shooting 49.6% from the field and 36.5% from beyond the arc; in 2021-22, Roby averaged a career-best 10.1 points per game.
And his rebounding is strong; since the 2020-21 season, Roby is averaging over five boards per game (5.3) with a majority of that work coming on the defensive glass (3.7 DRB).
And Roby’s efficiency ballooned in 2021-22 when he boasted a PER of 18.3, up from 11.9 the year before.
Who would Roby replace in this lineup?
Likely Lauri Markkanen, the team’s second option at power forward behind Evan Mobley.
In several categories, including efficiency and field goal percentage, Roby would be an upgrade.
But Markkanen’s inferior numbers also are at the hands of much higher volume than Roby; Markkanen attempted 11.5 shots last season, while Roby put up only 7.2.
Isaiah Roby is a very underrated FA right now. In the 2021-22 Season he put up:
– 10.1 PPG
– 4.8 RPG
– 1.6 APG
– 0.8 BPG
– 60.7 TS%
– 51.4 FG%
– 44.4 3PT%
In only 21 Minutes Per Game.
He’s only 24 Years old. Could be a quality piece of the bench for any team right now. pic.twitter.com/lpufMhIzYO
— Hoopers.Analogy (@Hoopers_Analogy) July 3, 2022
Roby’s $1.9 million would also be significantly cheaper than Markkanen’s $16.5 million next season.
But that argument means that the Cavs would have to offload Markkanen, but to whom?
In Cleveland, Roby would certainly benefit from playing with a better crop of talent in Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Mobley.
Would that improve his numbers generally?
Tight Space, Small Need?
On the flip side, Roby does his best work in the short range.
Nearly 65% of his total field goals came within ten feet of the rim last season.
That could be problematic given the lineup that Cleveland will trot out next season, which includes Allen and Mobley.
And while the offseason videos of Mobley working on his long game are awesome, both players did a majority of their work in the paint as well.
Adding one more body in there could disrupt a very delicate balance.
Perhaps J.B. Bickerstaff could stagger Roby, Mobley, and Allen’s minutes, but is the threat too great?
Further, do the Cavs really need another power forward?
As it stands, the position is stocked for Cleveland right now with future All-NBA talent Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen.
Would Roby be a cheaper, more efficient version of Markkanen?
But Cleveland would also sacrifice Markkanen’s 14-plus points per game with any switch.
Yet that’s a number that could be made up elsewhere, like say, Collin Sexton?
Speaking of Sexton, the Cavs are starting to run short on roster space.
After signing Ricky Rubio, Robin Lopez, and Raul Neto, the Cavs are at 15 filled roster spots.
Per league rules, teams can only carry 15 roster spots during the season.
During the offseason, that number is expanded to 20.
And the Cavs can designate Rubio as an “inactive player” while he recovers from an ACL injury, opening up one of those 15 spots.
Thunder have waived Isaiah Roby.
Class act and a promising young player. Roby shot 44.4% from 3 last season. But OKC has a roster crunch with young prospects, especially at the PF position.
Hope Isaiah catches on with another team. He’s an NBA player.
— Brandon Rahbar (@BrandonRahbar) July 3, 2022
Could that spot go to Roby?
But it is probably being left open for Sexton, who is still in restricted free agency and has yet to receive an offer sheet.
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