After rampant speculation over the past few days, it appears the Cleveland Cavaliers have reached a deal with free agent forward Earl Clark.
Sean Deveny of Sporting News had the report first as a two-year, $9 million deal between Clark and the Cavs. TNT’s David Aldridge followed up in reporting that the second year is a team option; a much more flexible deal for the organization.
Clark, a 25-year-old who was the 14th pick in the 2009 draft out of Louisville, had a semi-breakout year this past season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Under the bright lights of the Staples Center, he averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while averaging 23.1 minutes in 59 contests (36 starts).
He nearly doubled his career regular season playing time from the previous three seasons 1 . Yet, he only posted a 12.4 PER last regular season and collected just 14 points in 82 playoff minutes.
The Cavs were first linked to Clark on the rumor mill earlier this week, as reported by Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico. A 6-foot-10 “stretch” 4, he was 35-for-104 (33.7%) from the three-point line this past season and mostly lived on the perimeter offensively. He can play both forward positions and was a hot target for several teams.
Partnered with Anthony Bennett, Clark gives GM Chris Grant another weapon on the perimeter to create some potentially intriguing mismatches with size and length. Clark rates as a solid defender, so should be a decent fit with the young and collegiately porous defensive abilities of the recent No. 1 pick.
Remaining offseason priorities for the Cavs still likely will be a backup big man, another wing (CJ Miles? Wayne Ellington return?) and depth at the point guard position. Clark fits as a solid rotation player with defensive skills and the ability to stretch the floor. But it’s hard to see him gathering too many minutes, with similarly sized Tristan Thompson and Bennett also key priorities for the team’s future.
The team still has plenty of cap space remaining. Just yesterday, Cleveland was linked with New York Knicks free agent forward Chris Copeland, but with the acquisition of Clark, it appears that rumor has probably met its day.
[Related: The NBA Draft may be complete, but Chris Grant’s job is just getting started]
1,406 minutes with Phoenix and Orlando from 2009-2012; he had 1,363 minutes last year