Cavaliers add veteran swingman Richard Jefferson
By TAYLOR ROSEN
College Contributor Network
In what is the beginning of a seemingly endless and exhausting journey, in which they hope to find themselves back to where it all came to an end a season ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers took yet another step forward in making it back to the NBA's biggest stage and achieving the team's ultimate goal.
Coming into the free agency period, it was no secret the Cavaliers desperately needed point guard depth and a veteran small forward to come off of the bench. Somebody who could come in and provide an instant relief to the team's leader, LeBron James. Just a few weeks later, and the team has now filled both of those voids. The Cavaliers filled the gap at the point guard position with the addition of veteran point guard and former teammate of James, Mo Williams.
Now, just a week later, the Cavaliers are back at it again. On Tuesday, they were able to pry veteran free-agent small forward Richard Jefferson away from the Dallas Mavericks, the team he has spent the last year with, to join the Cavaliers' quest for redemption.
The Mavericks had reached a verbal agreement with Jefferson a few weeks back, but after the DeAndre Jordan saga, and Jordan ultimately reneging his word to join the Mavericks, the Mavericks (Cuban) gave Jefferson the opportunity to change his mind, and now he's a Cleveland Cavalier.
"He called and talked to me," Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. "RJ said he had an opportunity with an Eastern Conference team. He said he would honor what he [originally agreed to with the Mavs] but thought the other was a better fit. I told him I was OK with it and understood."
The 35-year-old veteran agreed to a one-year deal at the veteran's minimum, according to ESPN. The 14-year veteran has averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists while shooting 38 percent from downtown.
Jefferson should provide an instant spark of offense off of the bench for the Cavaliers. He should also fit right into what was the best defensive team in the NBA from an efficiency rating standpoint.
Cavaliers general manager David Griffin is still far from done. With Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova still on the market, Griffin and the Cavaliers now need to focus all of their energy and effort into re-signing those three players.
Smith, who opted out of his guaranteed $6.5 million deal around the time of the NBA draft, may have ended up costing himself a few million dollars. This week, Smith came out and said he does regret opting out, but he also said he has indeed received offers with numbers he liked, it just wasn't as great of a destination as Cleveland is for Smith.
With that being said, Smith might need to learn some negotiating tactics from his pal, James. It's very unusual to see a player opt out of his contract, only to end up getting less money than what they were initially in line for.
If Griffin can bring back the three, it may make the Cavaliers the deepest team in the NBA. With those three back, you're looking at a starting five of: Irving, Shumpert, James, Love and Mozgov. Meaning the Cavaliers would have a bench of: Williams, Dellavedova, Smith, Jones, Miller Jefferson, Thompson and Varejao.
On Tuesday evening, former Cavalier center Kendrick Perkins inked a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. That now means there is a vacant spot on the Cavaliers roster at the center position. The latest buzz to replace Perkins revolves around Russian center Sasha Kaun, who recently pleaded his case as to why he should join the Cavaliers
When Kaun was asked about the possibility of joining the Cavaliers next season, he expressed strong interest in a move to Cleveland, and said he is intrigued by the possibility of winning an NBA championship.
"My interest level is very high," Kaun said. "I definitely would like to play here, especially with the Cavs, you know, a team that's got a chance to win a championship."
Signing Thompson, Dellavedova and Smith, while bringing in Kaun to play a reserve role, would have to make the Cavaliers the deepest team in the NBA on paper.
So where exactly does Griffin go from here? Being just a few signatures away from completing his masterpiece of an offseason, when he collects those signatures it will lead many to believe the biggest winner of the 2015 NBA offseason was the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Sure, the Spurs obtained Aldridge and West, but the Cavaliers will be returning at full strength, with some additional tools to work with. We all know one thing for sure, Quicken Loans Arena will be absolutely rocking next season when the NBA regular season tips off in October.
Taylor Rosen is a junior at Kent State University. He spent time with The Stater covering Kent State football and basketball. Taylor is from Cleveland, and has Cleveland sports under a microscope. Follow him on Twitter: @TRosen12