ATLANTA -- In a surprise move with less than a week to go before the playoffs begin, the Cleveland Cavaliers made yet another tweak to the back end of their roster, waiving guard DeAndre Liggins, the team announced Sunday.
The timing of the decision, with just three games remaining in the regular season, was motivated by two factors, according to general manager David Griffin: creating a roster spot that the Cavs intend to fill by Wednesday’s deadline to add a player who will be playoff eligible; and giving Liggins a chance to be claimed off waivers by another team before the regular season closes, which would take his current contract off their books next year.
The question is what direction the Cavs will go with to find their 15th man. Will it be depth in the front court with Tristan Thompson set to miss his third consecutive game Sunday with a sprained right thumb? Will it be another point guard to back up Kyrie Irving in case his left knee continues to act up, as it did this past Friday against Atlanta, as further insurance alongside Deron Williams, who has underwhelmed thus far? Would it be another wing player, adding to the glut of swingmen they already have coming off the bench in Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams and James Jones?
There are plenty of names that could be considered, from former Cavs Anderson Varejao and Dahntay Jones (who was signed on the final day of the regular season last year and went on to make spot contributions in the playoffs), to LeBron James' former Miami Heat teammate Mario Chalmers. A team source indicated to ESPN the Cavs had not settled on a name yet, however, they would be more likely to target someone who has played recently.
What is certain is that Liggins’ fate, which the guard learned Sunday morning at the team hotel after making the trip to Atlanta with the Cavs on Saturday, typifies the rocky season the defending champions have had.
Liggins, with season averages of 2.4 points and 1.7 rebounds per game, actually started 19 games after J.R. Smith injured his thumb and gave the Cavs’ defense a boost as he guarded opposing point guards to free up Irving to conserve some energy for the offensive end.
“Liggs gave us a lot,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “I think when J.R. went down we inserted him into the starting lineup to change our defense to get Kyrie off the ball and to pick up full court, be aggressive defensively -- he was really good for us. Hopefully he gets a chance to go somewhere else and get an opportunity to play.”