Cavs welcome Knight and Chriss with open arms

The two newest Cavaliers are expected to contribute

James Rapien
February 07, 2019 - 3:53 pm
Dec 13, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Brandon Knight (2) shoots the ball during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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Independence, OH ( 92.3 The Fan) – The Cavaliers completed their final trade of the season on Wednesday night, which netted a first-round pick, Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss. Most are focused on the pick they received in the deal and rightfully so, but they're also getting two players with plenty to prove. 

“Obviously we get two new teammates in Marqese and Brandon. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them both as people," Larry Nance Jr. said. "I think they might be coming tonight ­­­– to D.C. and I’m excited to get working.”

Knight, 27, is an eight-year veteran who missed all of last season after tearing the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his left knee. He's only played in 12 games this season for Houston. Prior to his injury, Knight posted career averages of 15.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. The trade reunites him with Larry Drew, who coached him in Milwaukee. Knight has to be excited to get a chance at legitimate playing time since being cleared from the injury.  

“I don’t know exactly where he is with his injury,” Drew said. “I know he was playing when we played Houston down in Houston. We’ll see once he gets here. From what I’m hearing he’s ready to play. If he’s ready to play, then we’ll certainly have him out there.”

Knight is versatile, which is valuable to any team, but especially a team like Cleveland. They've played shorthanded all season long due to injuries. If Knight can stay healthy, he should get a lot of the minutes that were going to Alec Burks and Rodney Hood. 

“I think he’s a combo guard," Drew said. "He does enough things as a point guard to give him that label. I know when he was in Milwaukee, he was a terrific scorer and he can still score the ball. It’s nice to have players like that because you can move them off the ball as well.”

Chriss, 21, should also bring versatility to the Cavaliers. He was disappointed with his lack of playing time in Houston. Chriss' agent, Aaron Goodwin told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he wanted more playing time or he wanted to be traded. The Rockets decided to move on from him. The good news is Chriss should get plenty of chances to prove himself with Cleveland.

The third-year pro is in the final year of his contract, which means this is an important stretch for him to show he belongs in the NBA. He's known for his high-flying dunks.

“I’ve been a fan of him since he came into the league,” Nance said about Chriss. “I think he’s super talented. One of my college coaches coached him in Phoenix. He said our personalities are going to mesh real well. Hopefully he’s somebody when I get my post-practice work in or post-game work in or a lift in, that I can just invite him with because we’re very similar in play style and hopefully I can bring him along a little bit.”

“The dumb things I did in college at 21 and this guy has been all over the NBA at 21. I think it’s silly for teams to pass on a guy like that, given how talented he is. I’m just excited to pass on some work ethic and really bring him along with this group.”

The Cavaliers turned Burks into a first-round pick. Anything they get from Knight or Chriss would be a bonus. The starting lineup will change with the two trades the Cavs made. Jordan Clarkson, who's averaging 16.6 points per game off the bench, could get the starting nod.

“I was going through that with the coaches this morning about different scenarios as far as a starting lineup for us," Drew said. "Right now I have not made a decision on that. There’s a chance JC could start – there’s a chance I might leave him in his natural role as far as coming off the bench.”

Clarkson has been inconsistent at times this season, but he's having a good year for the Cavaliers. Drew is in a tough spot with no clear cut starting five, which likely means he'll experiment with different lineups for the remainder of the year. 

The 11-43 Cavaliers travel to Washington to play the Wizards on Friday night.