For the past three seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers have had a glaring weakness at the small forward position.
Year after year, Cavs fans have been subjected to watching players like Joey Graham, Christian Eyenga, Jamario Moon, Jawad Williams and Omri Casspi.
This simply has to end.
Cleveland has an exciting young backcourt in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. In the frontcourt, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Anderson Varejao form a nice trio when healthy.
Alonzo Gee, the team's starter at the position for the past two years, is better suited for a bench role where his size and versatility can be better utilized.
Small forward is holding this team back and must be addressed this offseason.
Here are three ways the Cavs can upgrade the position this summer and convert their small forward weakness into a team strength.
1. Free Agency
The first option for the Cavs to reboot their small forward spot is also the least likeliest path they'll take.
My ranking of the top free-agent small forwards are as follows:
|1.||Andre Iguodala||Denver Nuggets||29||Player Option|
|2.||Josh Smith||Atlanta Hawks||27||Unrestricted|
|3.||Andrei Kirilenko||Minnesota Timberwolves||32||Player Option|
|4.||Corey Brewer||Denver Nuggets||27||Unrestricted|
|5.||Matt Barnes||Los Angeles Clippers||33||Unrestricted|
Of the top five, the only one I don't want to see the Cavs go after is Josh Smith. He's a near-elite talent, yes, but also better at power forward when not tempted to shoot as many jumpers. Some team will throw a max deal at him, and that team will regret it before that contract is up.
Andre Iguodala would be a dream player to add. He can play either wing position, can score, pass, rebound and is a tremendous on-ball defender. To sign Iguodala, it would take him opting out of his current contract and convincing him to leave one of the top teams in the Western Conference to join a rebuilding project back in the East.
His price could also be an issue, as Iguodala will likely command at least $12 million annually.
A player like Corey Brewer or Matt Barnes is much more likely, as he could be had for a typical Cavs one- or two-year deal. Brewer had a great year for the Denver Nuggets with over 12 points per game off the bench and is considered a strong perimeter defender.
Other options could include Chase Budinger, Devin Ebanks or Marvin Williams.
This is where Chris Grant would need to get creative.
While the Cavs haven't been known to pull off any big trades in recent years, they have slowly been gathering more and more tradeable assets in terms of young talent and draft picks.
When trying to find a possible trade partner, it's important to pinpoint teams that either, A. have small forwards who are talented, yet expendable or B. are in financial trouble.
One possible small forward the Cavs could pursue is currently playing for a division rival.
Danny Granger, 30, has become an afterthought in Indiana, as he only played in five games this past season due to knee injuries.
Paul George has essentially taken over Granger's spot as team leader and go-to scorer and is a much younger and cheaper version. Granger is a career 18.1 point-per-game scorer and is entering the last year of his contract which pays him just over $14 million (per Spotrac).
Indiana can afford to keep him, even though they'll be over the salary cap if they choose to re-sign David West and D.J. Augustin. The Indiana Pacers won the division without Granger playing essentially all season and appear to be just fine without him.
The Cavs have the cap space to take a chance on Granger, and he could turn out to be an All-Star small forward while in Cleveland.
3. The Draft
The most reliable and likely place the Cavs will turn to for small forward help is the 2013 NBA draft.
Fortunately for Cleveland, the 2013 class does offer some intriguing options.
Otto Porter of Georgetown is the most likely candidate. The 19-year-old sophomore can do a little bit of everything, especially defend. With Mike Brown on board as coach, you can bet finding players in the draft who put an emphasis on defense will be priority No. 1.
Anthony Bennett, Shabazz Muhammad and Deshaun Thomas are all offensive-minded small forwards who could help the Cavs out as well, but Porter appears the clear-cut favorite due to his potential on the defensive end.
Porter would likely start right away and represent an immediate improvement over Gee.
Look for the Cavs to add a small forward, most likely through the draft.
Plenty of options remain in other areas, however, as the Cavs could very well pursue a veteran like Iguodala or Granger through free agency or a trade.
Whichever route they choose to go, adding a capable small forward who can defend, knock down an open shot and rebound a little bit is crucial for the Cavs to take the next step next season.
It's time to end sending out players like an Casspi or a Graham, hoping for the best.
The Cavs need to get serious about upgrading the position through whatever means necessary.
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