Cavaliers to Sign NBA Champion to Roster Spot Vacated by Kevin Love: Report

Sam Merrill Cleveland Cavaliers

Getty Sam Merrill of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have found a player for the roster spot vacated by Kevin Love. At least, for the next 10 days, that is.

On Wednesday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Cleveland plans to sign Sam Merrill to the roster on a limited contract.

“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.

Merrill is a three-year veteran who won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks during his rookie season. Coming out of college at Utah State, Merrill was expected to be primarily a shooter, given his career 16.6 PPG on 42% from three.

Since entering the league, Merrill has seen limited action on the pro level. In 30 games with the Bucks, Merrill shot a strong 44.7% from three. Last year with the Memphis Grizzlies, Merrill’s playing time went up (nearly 10 minutes per game compared to just 7.8 with Milwaukee), but his scoring numbers declined.

This season has been something of a renaissance for Merrill. With the 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 to Improve Three-Point Shooting

It’s unsurprising that Cleveland is giving a shooter a look on the pro roster. According to Cavs beat reporter Evan Dammarell, Cleveland eyed filling Love’s vacated spot with someone who mitigated the team’s weaknesses.

“#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,” Dammarell tweeted on Sunday. 

Despite adding an offensive dynamo in Donovan Mitchell this summer, the Cavs are still one of the league’s worst three-point threats. According to Cleaning the Glass, Cleveland’s 36.5% make rate from beyond the arc ranks 14th in the league this season.

It’s not hard to see why Cleveland is lacking in shooting. Garland leads the team with a 42.4% three-point percentage this season (among players who’ve appeared in at least 35 games). Mitchell is at a good-not-amazing 38.7% and Dean Wade earns bronze for his 37.3%.

A potentially positive sign: Danny Green looks the part of a potential deep threat. His 42.9% in just 9.3 minutes per game suggests he could be relied upon down the road, so long as he’s fully recovered from last May’s ACL tear. He’s up to 9.0 threes per game per-36 minutes.

Garland Not Worried About Mobley’s Poor Shooting

Those three-point woes are to be expected given Cleveland’s starting five personnel. Jarrett Allen’s as great of a scorer as anyone, so long as it’s limited to the paint. And Evan Mobley, just a sophomore, has struggled to find an outside shot so far through his two-season career.

Mobley’s three-point shooting is down to 21.4% this season after posting a 25% rate last year.

Garland, for his part, isn’t worried about Mobley’s bad shooting.

“I love it,” Garland said, per’s Spencer Davies. “I love when he’s just outside the perimeter shooting the 3-ball.”

Garland also expressed utmost confidence in Mobley’s shot.

“We’re confident in him. He’s confident in his shot. He’s working on it every day. I want him to shoot it.”

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