The Cleveland Cavaliers are the defending NBA champions, but the 2016-17 season has been anything but easy through the first 40 plus games. The team has failed to properly replace Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov for this season and it has showed in their play on the court. Chris Anderson was meant to replace Mozgov, but he sustained a season ending injury early in the season. The Cavs drafted Kay Felder in hopes of him being a suitable back up to Kyrie Irving. Felder has failed to be productive as a late first round draft pick, and this has caused Kyrie Irving to try too hard at times.
Kyrie Irving’s play has been superb, but LeBron James has demanded that management add another playmaker. LeBron James has lobbied management by publicly making it known that the Cavs need better players. James has faced public criticism from media members such as Charles Barkley, and a small minority of them have questioned his willingness to compete. The Cavs added Kyle Korver but still are in need of someone to back up Kyrie Irving so that he does not have to try too hard.
Here are 15 “Playmakers” that could help the Cleveland Cavaliers right now.
15 Lance Stephenson
Lance Stephenson has had a workout with the Cavaliers, and this may assure him a spot on the Cavs roster. When Lebron James was on the Miami Heat he faced Stephenson and the Indiana Pacers in the playoffs multiple times. Stephenson seemed to try to get under James skin, and it did rile up James but did not stop him from defeating the Pacers in the playoffs. After the 2013-2014 season he left the Pacers and went for a big payday with the Charlotte Hornets. Once he left the Pacers his play on the court became worse, and at the beginning of the 2016-2017 season he was waived by the New Orleans Pelicans due to a groin injury he sustained. He has a decent jumper and can defend well which could help the Cavaliers spell Kyrie Irving less minutes so he is fresh for the playoffs.
14 Mario Chalmers
Mario Chalmers has spent most of his career with the Miami Heat, and played with LeBron James during their finals runs from 2011 through 2014. Together they won two titles and appeared in four NBA championships. Chalmers was known for playing his best towards the end of games, and this is something the Cavaliers need after going below .500 in the month of January. It also does not hurt to bring someone in like Chalmers who has a lot of familiarity on how to play with LeBron James. Chalmers was having a great season last year with the Grizzlies averaging almost 11 points a game, but after an injury to his Achilles he was waived by the Grizzlies. If not for the injury he’d likely be on a roster now and the Cavaliers are in desperate need of a backup point guard.
13 T.J. McConnell
The Cleveland Cavaliers have inquired about accruing T.J. McConnell from the Philadelphia 76ers, but they proposed a bogus offer to the 76ers which included Jordan McCrae who was cut by the 76ers just last year. McConnell will likely not end up on the Cavs roster. McConell was a long shot to make the NBA after finishing up at the University of Arizona in 2015, but he worked tirelessly to make the 76ers opening day roster. He overcame the odds to make the team, and in his second NBA season this year he is now the team’s starting point guard. McConell only averages six points and six assists a game, but his ability to keep the ball moving on offense is what made him coveted by the Cavs.
12 Kirk Hinrich
Kirk Hinrich is a seasoned NBA veteran, and the Cavs need leadership on their team that is seemingly going into panic mode after a month of struggles. Lebron James has always flourished with strong three point shooters surrounding him. Hinrich is a career 37 percent three point shooter, and also has a ton of playoff experience under his belt. The 71 playoff games he has appeared in is 71 more than the Cavs rookie point guard Kay Felder. Felders poor play has forced Kyrie Irving to have to log long minutes in game, and this has forced Irving to try and do too much at times. Playing off the ball is something that Kirk Hinrich is capable of doing when Lebron wants to bring the ball up and create.
11 Carmelo Anthony
The all elusive NBA championship is the prize that Carmelo Anthony is striving for, but it does not seem like his current team the New York Knicks will be capable of accomplishing that for a long time. Carmelo Anthony has a no trade clause in his contract. This could make it harder for the Knicks to accommodate their superstar, but he has made it apparent he would waive that no trade clause for the right opportunity. LeBron James and Anthony have been good friends for years which would make it an easy transition to play with him in Cleveland.
Anthony is getting up there in age, but he is still putting up an impressive 23 points and six rebounds a game. The Cavaliers have made it clear they won’t trade Kevin Love for Anthony which will make it difficult for the Knicks to pull off a trade with the Cavs.
10 Ray Allen
Ray Allen has been out of basketball since the 2013-2014 NBA season and he officially announced his retirement from basketball during the summer of 2016, but before that he was mulling a comeback to try and compete for another championship. The Cleveland Cavaliers is the perfect team to try and win a championship on considering they’re the defending champions. Allen also has great chemistry with Lebron James due to them playing two seasons together in Miami. If it wasn’t for Allen’s heroic three pointer in game six of the 2013 NBA finals James would have one less championship ring, and the Cavaliers could only benefit from another clutch performer. The thought of the Cavs having two of the best three point shooters in the history of the NBA in Allen and Kyle Korver could cause lots of trouble for opposing defenses.
9 D.J. Augustin
DJ Augustin is currently a member of the Orlando Magic, and he could provide much needed depth at the point guard position for the Cavaliers. He is also someone who is capable of playing off the ball when Lebron James decides to take the ball up the court himself. Augustin also would not hurt the Cavs already large salary cap as he is in the first year of a four year $29 million contract, but the Cavs would have to get creative in who they would trade back to the Magic. Three point shooting is so critical in today’s NBA, and Augustin is a career 37 percent three point shooter not to mention the amount of open looks he’d get on the Cavs would be much greater than the amount he currently gets on the Magic.
8 Marco Belinelli
Marco Belinelli has experience playing for a championship caliber team when he played for the San Antonio Spurs from 2013 through 2015, and he helped the Spurs defeat the Lebron James led Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA finals. He is currently on the Charlotte Hornets and has always posed a threat as a great three point shooter. His three point shooting is so superb that he won the 2014 NBA three point shootout during the all-star weekend. Kyrie Irving and Lebron James are both great at driving to the basket, but they’re also great at driving and kicking it out to open teammates for easy long range shots. Belinelli would be able to fill in for JR Smith until he fully recovers from his injuries.
7 Aaron Brooks
Aaron Brooks can definitely fulfill Lebron James’s definition of a playmaker if he were to be acquired via trade. It would be difficult to get Brooks from the Indiana Pacers based off the fact that the two franchises are rivals in a sense, but much stranger things have happened in the NBA. Brooks has always been good at scoring the basketball whether as a starter or off the bench. The Cavaliers could use him to fill in the backup point guard slot, and if they wanted to play small ball they could possibly play Brooks and Kyrie Irving on the floor at the same time. Lebron James wants someone who can replace the production of Matthew Dellavedova on the team. Brooks would provide an upgrade from Dellavedova on the offensive side of the ball, and has a little bit of playoff experience.
6 Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson has started the majority of games that he's played in the NBA, but ever since he left the Denver Nuggets he has mostly come off the bench. Lawson was struggling to stay in the NBA after an off the court issue while playing for the Houston Rockets. He signed a low salary contract with the Sacramento Kings last offseason, and he has been playing about 25 minutes a game for the Kings. Physically he looks like he is in a lot better shape than when he was on the Rockets. Lawson is a great defender for his size, and is a career 36 percent three point shooter also. His low salary makes him an entertaining option for the Cavaliers who don’t really have much money to spend and are desperate for help at the point guard position.
5 Nick Young
Nick Young is having an exceptional year for the struggling Los Angeles Lakers, and his three point shooting would be a major help for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is shooting close to 42 percent so far this season and averaging close to 14 points a game this season. The Lakers may be willing to part with Young because he has a player option that he could potentially opt out of in hopes of getting more money, and the Lakers would rather get something now than lose him for nothing. Young plays a very similar style to JR Smith which would help the Cavs out while he is recovering from a serious injury. The Cavs would risk Young fleeing the team after this season but it would be all worth it if they can win a consecutive NBA title.
4 Taj Gibson
A lot of the rumors swirling around the Cleveland Cavaliers are that they are in search for a point guard or wing player, but many are forgetting that Chris Andersen is out for the year and Kevin Love has been experiencing minor nagging injuries through the course of the season. Taj Gibson is a great option to log minutes and be a part of a rotation with Tristan Thompson. He is a tenacious rebounder on both the offensive and defensive glass, and the more possessions the Cavs get the better chance they have of winning games. The Bulls have been linked to many trade rumors due to their disappointing season. If Taj Gibson become available the Cavs may have to give up a role player to acquire him, but it would not be a bad idea to think about filling the void Chris Andersen has left.
3 Langston Galloway
Langston Galloway was a long shot to make it to the NBA coming from Saint Joseph University, but he proved that he belonged in the league because of his ability to consistently knock down long range shots. He began his first two years with the New York Knicks. He played his way into another NBA contract with the New Orleans Pelicans this past offseason, and his contract would not be a major salary cap hit on the Cavaliers if they chose to pursue him. Galloway so far for the Pelicans this year is shooting an above average 37 percent from three. He also is not a terrible defender either which could be beneficial for the Cavs if they wanted to give either members of their back court a rest.
2 Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio has been in the NBA for five years, but he is still only 26 years young and could be a big contributor for a Cavalier team that desperately needs playmakers. A playmaker is often times thought of as someone who can score the ball. Rubio is not the greatest at scoring, but his ability to make plays is by distributing the ball to others. For his career he has averaged eight assists a game. The Cavs have trouble keeping the ball moving at times, and Rubio would help immediately by facilitating sharing of the basketball among the team. The only downside to Rubio is that he is not a very good three point shooter. The positives outweigh the negatives, and the addition of Rubio would instantly give the Cavs better back court depth.
1 Rajon Rondo
It has been made very public that Rajon Rondo has not enjoyed his short stint so far with the Chicago Bulls. Rondo has even been relegated to the bench, and had stern words for Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler's criticism of the team. Just last season Rondo led the NBA in assists with the Sacramento Kings and now he can’t even start for a team in the Chicago Bulls that might not make the playoffs. The Cavaliers would be delighted to be able to give Rondo an expanded role on a championship caliber team, and Rondo’s many skills would greatly improve the Cavs in multiple areas. On top of being a great distributer of the basketball, Rondo can also play great defense and drive to the basket efficiently. Rondo would easily solve the constant point guard problems the Cavs have suffered from outside of Kyrie Irving’s play.