Reports today are that the Cleveland Cavaliers have signed Earl Clark the 6’10″ Forward recently of the LA Lakers. Clark spent 5 games with Mike Brown last year. The 25 year old Clark was drafted #14 overall by the Orlando Magic in 2009 and was moved to LA last year as a part of the Dwight Howard trade. During this time Brown spent time with Clark in training camp and in the early season before his dismissal. Its probably likely that Brown had significant influence and feedback on Clark. Reports are that Clark signed a 2 year contract with the second year of contract is a team option. The Cavs have prioritized cap flexibility for the summer of 2014 for players like Lebron James who can become free agents. For many Cavs fans the question that follows the signing of a 6’10″ forward following the drafting of Anthony Bennett is simply “How do they all fit together?” The Cavs “bigs” now include Clark, Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller. So how does Clark fit?
On offense Clark has the ability to stretch the floor with a decent 3 point shot that is still developing but that fit well with Mike D’Antoni’s system as the stretch 4. With limited range with Thompson, Varejao and if they sign a defensively focused center, Clark can spread the floor. Clark also has the length to fit next to Bennett who showed outside game in college. Brown now has the ability to pair shooters Clark, Bennett and to some extent Zeller with defensive stalwarts Thompson and Varejao. During end game situations Clark will also provide a pick and pop partner for Kyrie Irving. On offense Clark can fit perfectly, and spend some time (if not a majority) playing the small forward position without causing issues defensively.
On defense Clark has the length and ability to stay with many 3′s in the NBA. His length and intensity allows him to guard power forwards as well. As many teams are going with smaller lineups, at 6’10″ Clark could also see time guarding “centers.” Looking at the Miami Heat lineups that included Chris Anderson, Udonis Haslem and even Shane Battier at the 5, Clark could spend time defensively there. The key for team building is who can guard what positions and how do they fit on the floor together offensively. Clark provides versatility for that. Clark’s lateral quickness and long arms allow him to play along side Bennett who has the size and strength to guard 4s. Similar to on the offensive end Clark gives the team flexibility, and having Brown’s trust will go along way.
On the Team
On a young team hoping to make the playoffs, learning a new system and with a lot of young talent, Clark can fit perfectly. Clark has some experience in the league, including making the playoffs last year. Clark also spent all training camp learning Brown’s system, especially on defense. Clark’s work ethic, that has allowed him to stay in the league will be a great example to the team. Brown now has Clark to add to Varejao of players who know his system and have the intensity to make all of the plays. Team building is not about positions, its about abilities, skills and talent acquisition. In Clark the Cavs have a player who can play both the small and big forward positions on offense and defense, has shown the ability to shoot and play solid defense. In the end Clark is a talented player the Cavs were able to acquire without giving up any assets or sacrifice long term cap space. There may not be another player in this year’s free agent class that can equal all of these things together in one package; Clark is talented, cap friendly, young with proven skills.
For what the Cavs want that is easily a solid B move.