For a team not really in a position to make major acquisitions this summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers have certainly found themselves in plenty of rumors. Fans have heard a good deal about potential signings or trades, none of which have materialized. This is probably due to the fact not many of the rumors make any actual sense.
There was the Dwyane Wade-to-Cleveland speculation, which actually generated a surprising amount of momentum. Of course, when you go back and look at what needed to happen to make the signing possible – Wade accepting $3.5 million, LeBron James signing for the minimum to make room on the salary cap – it was no surprise this didn’t come to fruition.
Then there was the Twitter speculation regarding a potential trade of Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert to the Sacramento Kings for DeMarcus Cousins and Ben McLemore. Could this happen? I mean, technically, sure it could. At the same time, it’s not going to happen.
Recently, the name being associated with the Cavs is none other than former Milwaukee Bucks forward Larry Sanders.
As you may recall, Sanders was a budding star with the Bucks, but stepped away from basketball midway through the 2014-15 season after being suspended for a drug violation. He stayed off the court last year to deal with anxiety and depression. However, he recently indicated he was ready to make a return, cryptically hinting Cleveland might be interested in signing him.
This is essentially all the concrete rumors we’ve heard about this potential deal. However, the hope is the Cavs really have reached out to Sanders. Quite frankly, he’d be a low-risk signing with the potential for big returns.
At 27-years-old, Sanders has plenty left in the tank. He’s also quite an effective rim-protector, averaging 1.8 blocks per game. Add in the fact he can contribute offensively as well, and you can see how Sanders would be a solid pickup for Cleveland.
The Cavs could definitely use the help Sanders could provide on the defensive end.
Though Timofey Mozgov had a set-back season last year, he was one of Cleveland’s defensive weapons. His departure in free agency leaves the Cavs with Love, Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye as available bigs. Chris Andersen is rumored to be joining the fold, but at 38-years-old, the team can’t risk relying solely on him to be a solution.
So, if Sanders is indeed serious about making a comeback, Cleveland has to at least look into the possibility of bringing him in.
Of course, this is under the assumption he’s taken care of all his off-the-court issues. If the Cavs aren’t convinced Sanders can put his past behind him, or if they aren’t comfortable with the likelihood he can stay clean, they obviously need to move on.
At the same time, they obviously wouldn’t be giving him a max contract. Any deal Cleveland made would be one which works best for the team. Therefore, if the signing occurred, it would be low-risk. This is mainly due to the fact the Cavs literally cannot offer anything but a low-risk contract.
Obviously, someone carrying the baggage Sanders has would be cause for concern in terms of team chemistry. It would be understandable for some to worry about how he would affect Cleveland’s locker room.
However, didn’t everyone feel the same way about J.R. Smith when the Cavs traded for him? How’d that work out?
This isn’t to say James’ presence is the cure-all for any player with red flags. That said, the rest of the NBA views Smith as a major wild card, yet he’s been nothing but a model citizen in Cleveland.
Sanders may or may not be the same should he end up joining the Cavs. That said, the minimal amount of money the team would be investing would make this signing worth the risk should it pay off.
For all we know, this rumor may go the same way as the Wade or Cousins stories. However, if there’s legitimacy to the idea of Sanders coming to Cleveland, I hope the team follows through. He could be a legit piece to the puzzle for the Cavs, and is certainly worth the mid-level salary they can offer him.