Amico: Without a Doubt, Cavs Address Need of Forwards Who Can Shoot

AKRON, Ohio — What becomes of Isaac Okoro?Max Strus drives by Ricky Rubio

That was actually my first question after I had learned the Cavs acquired small forward Max Strus in a three-team trade with the Heat — which sent guard/forward Cedi Osman and forward Lamar Stevens to the Spurs.

Along with that, the Cavs are signing 76ers free agent forward Georges Niang (who just happens to be a reputed Cavs-killer) and re-signed small forward Caris LeVert.

After seeing all those reports, my attention quickly turned to Okoro — then to what the Cavs actually did here. They needed 3-and-D guys on the wing, period, end of discussion. So president of basketball operations Koby Altman went out and got them.

Altman didn’t have to gut the roster, either. Osman’s time of fairly inconsistent play in Cleveland was up, even when they guaranteed his $6.7 million salary earlier in the week. As much as he’s loved in Cleveland, it was time to move on.

Stevens was undoubtedly the Cavs’ toughest dude last season, the winner of multiple Junkyard Dog awards. You could’ve given it to him every time he played. But his best work is done underneath the basket, and the Cavs needed guys who stretched the court.

For the record, I think Stevens will be terrific with the Spurs, where he’ll have an opportunity to play with No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. Osman could do well there too. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich tends to do well with international players.

As for the Cavs, Strus was up and down during the Heat’s run to the Finals, but when he was on from the perimeter, he was really on. He claimed the starting spot from Duncan Robinson, largely because Strus was a more reliable defender. But he also hit 45 percent on his 3-pointers from the corner.

Ah, yes. The corner three. It seemed to haunt the Cavs all of last season. Now, they have a man who’s proven to be steady from that spot.

Meanwhile, Niang plays both a physical brand of basketball underneath the basket and can hit threes. He could prove to be Stevens with a jump shot. Niang is also annoying (to the opposition) on defense. He’s pesky, physical. He can get into foul trouble, but when Niang plays, there’s never any doubt he’s on the court.

You also have to like the fact the Cavs are bringing back LeVert. His slashing to the hoop will be even more vital now that the Cavs have some reliable perimeter shooters to go with it.

All they need now is to find a reserve big man and perhaps another point guard.

As for Okoro, well, he’ll be fine. I imagine coach J.B. Bickerstaff will find some time for him, backing up both the small forward and shooting guard positions. He may be down to eighth man in the rotation, and that’s a good thing. It will show the Cavs went out and got what they wanted.

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  1. I think of Niamg as a guy who operates well along the baseline, hits open shots, and plays smart on both ends. Im betting Cavs value his passing and ability to get the ball to our bigs and others at advantageous times and places..

  2. I guess I am the only one concerned when these player’s former teams needed them most in the playoffs, they were benched for poor shooting and/or lack of athleticism to play again athletic opponents. In a league that so values shooting, Niang went scoreless in 3 of the 76ers EC semi-final games. Strus had two horrible shooting games and saw his minutes reduced in the Finals. Our team just invested $89 MILLION in these two very limited players.

    Finally, the Lakers invested between $12-13 million combined in Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish and Jaxon Hayes. 3 players that would have filled obvious gaps for us as well. Winners do what winners do,….just saying!

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