Of course, re-signing LeBron James and Kevin Love obviously shouldn’t be looked at as minor moves. At the same time, no major players were brought into the organization in attempts to boost a team which was just two wins away from an NBA title.
Longtime vet Richard Jefferson was acquired on a small deal, and Russian center Sasha Kaun finally came to America to sign with the Cavs for the first time since the team acquired his draft rights in 2008. Other than these two moves, Cleveland orchestrated a small homecoming by acquiring point guard Mo Williams.
On the surface, none of these were significant game-changers. Today, we learned at least one of them is.
Starting guard Kyrie Irving is currently rehabbing from surgery after a broken kneecap knocked him out of the NBA Finals. While word is he’s been making great strides in his recovery, the Cavs are also being very cautious when it comes to formulating a timeline for his return. In fact, according to NEOMG’s Chris Haynes, one team source claims Irving might not be ready to play until January.
I completely understand why the team is being extra careful with Irving, especially when you consider the severity of the injury. At the same time, Cleveland has to be more thrilled about signing Williams now than ever before.
Remember, losing Irving ended up being the final blow for the Cavaliers’ championship hopes this summer. Matthew Dellavedova, despite becoming a cult hero in the team’s two victories in the series, was clearly gassed by the time the Golden State Warriors finished Cleveland off. Additionally, while his defense is his strong suit, Dellavedova doesn’t bring a ton to the table offensively.
Outside of Dellavedova, the team didn’t really have any significant option at point guard. In Williams, not only do they have this now, they also have someone who can carry some of the slack while Irving takes the necessary time to recover.
Just like Dellavedova, Williams isn’t going to make anyone forget about Irving. Attempting to cover for the loss of a two-time All-Star is no easy feat. At the same time, you have to feel a lot better about the Cavs’ ability to withstand Irving’s absence thanks to Williams.
Compared to Dellavedova, Williams is a much smoother point guard when it comes to facilitating the offense. He’s also a significantly bigger threat offensively, coming off a short stint with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 17.2 PPG. He’ll definitely require attention from opposing defenses, something which can’t really be said about Dellavedova.
Most importantly, Williams gives the Cavs the kind of depth needed to weather the loss of Irving.
Had the team not gone after Williams or any other available point guard earlier this summer, this news would’ve been a lot tougher to swallow. Cleveland may have had to go bargain shopping for a lesser replacement. Additionally, the lack of capable backups might have forced the team to rush the recovery process with Irving.
With Williams in the fold, there isn’t as much desperation within the organization. No, he won’t completely make up for what Irving brings to the court. But, he also ensures the Cavs won’t be over-relying on Dellavedova through the early months of the season.
Cleveland is smart to be incredibly careful with Irving and his recovery. Having James and Love ensures the drop-off in talent won’t be significant, and at the end of the day, a healthy Irving is much more important come playoff time than in the first months of the season.
At the same time, having Williams makes this extra cautiousness a lot easier to deal with. Cavs fans were excited to see him come back to the team this summer, but they’re likely much more enthusiastic about this now.