On the heels of veteran point guard Mo Williams’ sudden decision to retire, the Cleveland Cavaliers are now reportedly in the pursuit of more depth at point guard as NBA training camps open up.
The Cavs, about to start their first ever title defense after completing a miraculous comeback in the NBA Finals against the heavily favored Golden State Warriors, have been in contact with point guards Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, and Kirk Hinrich, cleveland.com reported Monday.
Cleveland originally thought Williams would play out one more season and then call it a career, but general manager David Griffin said a contingency plan was in place all along.
"Throughout the summer ... it was in debate on what Mo was going to choose to do," Griffin told cleveland.com. "He vacillated a little bit, and so we were planning on this eventuality throughout."
Still, even though the Cavs have reached out to all three players, the team isn’t expediting any decisions or signings. Cleveland already has All-Star Kyrie Irving and second-year shooting guard Jordan McRae on the roster as well as recent signing and third-year guard Markel Brown.
Money and salary cap room, despite the massive increase this summer, is also an issue. According to Spotrac, the Cavs have $116.5 million devoted to player salaries for the upcoming season and are already $22.3 million over the cap. In turn, Cleveland’s also $13.6 million past the luxury tax threshold.
Cleveland.com reports that means the best the Cavs can offer Cole, Norris, or Hinrich is a veteran’s minimum deal, a pittance compared to what other cap-rich teams could offer them under the league’s newly inflated cap. However, the Cavs can offer a shot at a title.
Given Cleveland’s propensity to bow to forward LeBron James’ roster requests, it’s possible Cole has the inside track on a roster spot. The 27-year-old spent his first three-and-a-half years in the NBA with James and the Miami Heat and helped James capture the first two titles of his career in 2012 and 2013. Cole was especially strong on the defensive end, two steals in his first two playoff runs to go along with 5.0 assists a contest.
Chalmers, too, was part of those Heat title squads except he provided for offensive pop that Cole. The 30-year-old averaged 11.3 points throughout Miami’s 2012 championship run and shot better than 35 percent from three-point range.
Hinrich, though, may be a solid combination of both Cole and Chalmers. A 15-year NBA veteran, Hinrich’s shot 37.6 percent from three for his career and has been an excellent distributor with 4.8 assists per game.
Griffin and the Cavs could also be seeking some leverage over free agent shooting guard J.R. Smith, who has yet to re-sign with Cleveland. Griffin also said Monday that Cleveland has made “an incredibly competitive and aggressive offer to re-sign him.”
Still, throughout the summer there’s been little progress in bringing Smith, an excellent defender and third scorer beside Irving and James, back into the fold.