AKRON, Ohio — Without question, expectations will be higher for the Cavaliers in 2023-24.
Part of that has to do with the signing of former 76ers forward Georges Niang to a three-year, $25.5 million contract. The Cavs also traded for guard/forward Max Strus and signed guard Ty Jerome and center Damian Jones.
So adding that group to the likes of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen … well, it makes you think the Cavs should be able to improve their 51-31 record from last season and get past the first round of the playoffs.
Niang, 30, suggested he understands all that.
“You love to be compensated for everything you’ve put in and worked for,” Niang told Bill Burt of the Methuen (Mass.) Eagles-Tribune. “But work doesn’t stop.
“The Cavaliers have expectations. I have expectations. This is a team that is very close –very! They have some really good young talent and were looking for a veteran shooters and I was looking for a team that is dedicated to winning. It’s a perfect fit.”
Niang is 6-foot-7 and plays mostly as a “stretch four.” He’s physical on the inside and can make perimeter shots. While with the Sixers, some even referred to him as a Cavs killer.
He appeared in 78 games with Philadelphia last season, averaging 8.2 points and shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers. He will likely come off the bench with the Cavs, but there should be plenty of minutes for someone with his skill set.
Defensively, Niang has a history of bumping and frustrating the opposition.
Along with the Sixers, he has spent time with the Jazz (2017-21) and with the Pacers as a rookie (2016-17). This after playing for former NBA guard Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State.
Now, he’ll be playing for coach J.B. Bickerstaff and the Cavs, and he’s already putting in the work. That just seems to be the Niang way, actually.
“It’s pretty amazing when I think about it,” Niang told Burt. “I remember being 5-years-old, picking up the basketball and shooting in the driveway alone. It brought me happiness. The great thing is nothing has changed. I practiced today because I not only want to keep improving, but I love it.
“The money? It’s great. I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that and what it means. But the best part of what I’ve been able to do is that I feel like I’ve never worked a day in my life. I was up this morning, working on my game. I love it.”