Rumors have been swirling since preseason about the Cavs getting a backup point guard for Kyrie Irving. LBJ said it again this week after the Korver trade. Who can they get or who should they get?
In the opinion of the most important man in the organization, the Cleveland Cavaliers are still one piece short of where they need to be. After trading Mike Dunleavy (and Mo Williams!) for Kyle Korver, LeBron James told the media, "We gotta get a point guard." If you haven't noticed, the Cavs front office is in the business of making LeBron James happy, so they're continuing their hunt for a backup point guard. But who's available and what should they do? Lots of murmurs out there have named a few popular options, so let's run through those first.
Option 1. Mario Chalmers
Chalmers has been rehabbing from a torn Achilles for quite some time, and it's a little unclear how close he is to returning to action. However, multiple outlets have mentioned that he's someone that Cleveland has been thinking about since Matthew Dellavedova signed with Milwaukee over summer. Chalmers's familiarity with LeBron (and James Jones, although that seems less important) coupled with his generally solid career make him a nice option.
Before the injury, Chalmers played 55 games in Memphis and his per 36 minutes averages were the best of his career in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. The downside here is that Chalmers has never been a particularly good three-point shooter. Additionally, Achilles injuries are notoriously difficult to fully return from, so that raises some questions.
Option 2. Norris Cole
Another familiar name and face for LeBron James fans, as Cole played for the Heat from 2011-2015. After a stint with the Pelicans last season and a hamstring injury, Cole didn't land anywhere this year and spent some time in the Chinese league where he played in nine games and averaged over 19 points. The knock on Cole is similar to that of Chalmers: He's a poor three-point shooter. Cole was under 30% in his nine games in China and is under 33% in his NBA career.
On the bright side, he's an Ohio native who played collegiately at Cleveland State, so it would be fun to have him aboard for local pride. The other bright side is that Cole is known as a solid defender.
Option 3. Jarrett Jack.
Jarrett Jack deserves a statue in Cleveland for his lack of real complaining about being traded to clear space for LeBron's return. If he felt any ill-will toward the Cavs, I think he might be willing to let it slide if he could re-sign with Cleveland and see his best chance at an NBA title placed in his lap.
ESPN's Marc Stein reported that Jack is healthy enough to begin holding workouts soon for teams that are interested and it would make a lot of sense for the Cavaliers to be on that list. He's returning from tearing ligaments in his knee.
Those are your big three names that are getting floated. My opinion would be to order them with Cole #1, then Chalmers and Jack in slots #2A and #2B due to their health concerns. Cole has played basketball this year, so we know he's healthy enough to play more basketball.
There are also still discussions floating around that the Cavaliers could trade for a backup point guard as if they have a roster full of assets to give. Who's been the most popular trade rumor thus far?
Option 4. Rajon Rondo
Don't laugh. OK fine, laugh a little. Rondo has gone from being an All-Star and one of the best point guards in the NBA to having been benched on at least two teams (Chicago and Sacramento, for sure, and Dallas/Boston are iffy, depending who you ask). That's crazy. The guy is only 30 years old, just signed a two-year, $27m contract, and is the 3rd string point guard for a team that he should never have signed with in the first place.
The Cavs most likely won't try to pull any strings to get him, but it's worth noting that if LeBron likes a guy, he'll make it work. Not to mention the fact that playing with LeBron has a way of straightening guys out and making them happy. The additional trouble here would be the cost. Rondo's expensive. And the Bulls would rather not trade him to someone in their division, although I think they'll just be happy to be rid of him.
Option 4a. Other backups in a trade.
Some other names in the discussion are guys like DJ Augustin, Jameer Nelson, and Brandon Knight (King James Gospel talked about these guys here), but I'd be shocked to see Augustin or Knight in Cleveland. Deron Williams has been floated as well, but players of that caliber — just like Rondo — are going to have too big of a price tag. Jameer Nelson has a chance, but the best option might be none of them.
Option 5. Do nothing
It's not a good look for the organization when LeBron comes out and says they need to do something and then the front office says, "no we don't." However, that's exactly what I'm proposing.
Yes, part of the reason LeBron's minutes are high is that he's taking a lot of point guard minutes. That's why he wants a backup to Kyrie. They tried Shump a little bit and had mixed results so they've looked to Felder a bit since then. Felder will take time, certainly, but the fact of the matter is that nobody is going to play backup point guard in the playoffs except LeBron. If the Cavaliers want to reduce LeBron's minutes now, fine. Play Felder and if he loses you some games, he loses you some games. If they want to bring someone in as a backup, that person will be a money pit in the playoffs who will sit on the bench and watch. What's the point?
The Cavs are far enough ahead in the conference that they can stand to lose a couple of games along the way. Felder getting 15 minutes a night isn't going to hurt Cleveland's playoff chances, and it might end up working out okay for them.
Of course, the Cavaliers will not do this because it would upset LeBron James.
Maybe the answer is to get another big body inside to take up fouls and block shots at the rim, but the pickings there are slim as well, unfortunately. That's another story for another day.