Though he’s appeared in only one game for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, Sam Merrill has evidently earned himself a long-term commitment in Lake Erie.
According to Chris Fedor of cleveland.com, the Cavaliers plan to sign Merrill to a “multi-year” contract, keeping him in Cleveland.
“#Cavs are signing Sam Merrill to a *multi-year* contract, sources tell @cleveland.com,” Fedor tweeted.
Merill, who won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks during his rookie season, signed with the Cavaliers on March 2, as reported by Shams Charania and Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.
“The Cleveland Cavaliers are planning to sign guard Sam Merrill to a 10-day contract out of their NBA G-League Charge affiliate, sources tell me and @kelseyyrusso,” Charania tweeted.
The Cavaliers’ roster opened up for Merrill after Kevin Love‘s surprising buyout left an empty spot. After one season with the Bucks, Merrill was bounced to the Memphis Grizzlies, where he spent another season toggling between the pros and G-League.
This season has been something of a renaissance for Merrill, however. With the Cavs’ G-League affiliate Charge, the third-year guard is putting up 17.5 PPG on 43.7% from three. He’s been an integral part of the Charge’s roster, as well, with a commanding 33.8 minutes per game tally this year.
Cavs Need Improved Three-Point Shooting
Since joining the Cavaliers full-time in early March, though, Merrill has struggled to find much playing time. He’s appeared in just one game, scoring two points in four minutes of duty.
Prior to adding Merrill, the Cavaliers were looking to fill Love’s spot with someone who addressed an area of need for Cleveland.
“#Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said that they’ll have internal conversations with Koby Altman about addressing the open roster spot based on what the team needs the most,” Cavs beat writer Evan Dammarell tweeted before Merrill’s signing was announced.
In theory, Merrill helps with one of those areas: shooting. The Cavaliers continue to be one of of the league’s mediocre three-point threats, despite adding an offensive dynamo in Donovan Mitchell this summer.
According to Cleaning the Glass, Cleveland’s 36.5% make rate from beyond the arc ranks 16th in the league this season.
It’s not hard to see why Cleveland is lacking in scoring. Garland leads the team with a 42.3% three-point percentage this season (among players who’ve appeared in at least 35 games). Mitchell is at a good-not-amazing 38.3% and Caris LeVert earns bronze for his 36.4%.
Merrill Unlikely to See Playing Time for Cavs?
Even given those shooting struggles, Merrill faces an uphill battle for playing time with the Cavaliers. As the postseason nears, Cleveland’s rotation will only get tighter, squeezing out regular-season throw-ins for the regular stars.
“Eight, nine will probably be the most,” Cavs head coach JB Bickerstaff told cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor when asked how many players will make up the Cavs’ postseason rotation.
While the familiar names — Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Darius Garland — won’t go anywhere, the same can hardly be said for the rest of the Cavaliers’ rotation.
But that leaves little room for the likes of Merrill.