Why won’t the Cavaliers start Cedi Osman? – Right Down Euclid mailbag

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mailbag cedi osman cavaliers suns
CLEVELAND, OH – DECEMBER 26: Cedi Osman #16 of the Cleveland Cavaliers runs up the court during the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on December 26, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

In a triumphant return of the ongoing series for Right Down Euclid, readers can submit their questions about anything related to Cleveland sports and we’ll answer them to the best of our ability. So, with that said, today Right Down Euclid will answer your questions, and hopefully more, in this return of the semi-frequent mailbag.

Before we get started, a few quick housekeeping notes for everyone. On Monday, the Meta Bulletin version (aka the OG) of Right Down Euclid will cease to exist and become dust drifting through cyberspace. As many of you know, Right Down Euclid has moved on to its own, fully independent website. With that said, the cost to keep this enterprise going can be expensive, to say the least. That’s why, if you enjoy my work then please give me your financial support today. For those who donate $10 a month, you’ll also get a collection of free Right Down Euclid swag from our friends at Cotton Burea.

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With that said, let’s answer some reader questions in today’s mailbag.

Why won’t J.B. Bickerstaff start Cedi Osman at the three? He leads the NBA in net rating and could give the starting lineup more shooting! – John G.

It seems that today’s mailbag is going to be Cavaliers-centric with a heightened focus on how head coach J.B. Bickerstaff utilizes his rotations and roster.

For those who aren’t aware, Cedi Osman is on a bit of a tear as of late and is indeed leading the NBA in net rating. For those who don’t know what net rating is, it means that when Osman is on the court for the Cavaliers, they’re scoring 117.2 points per 100 possessions and allowing 105.5 points per 100 possessions thus giving Osman a league-leading net rating of 11.7 – which hey, that’s pretty good!

The issue with advanced metrics like net rating is that although they do provide a clear picture of what is, and isn’t, working for teams like Cleveland, it doesn’t paint the full image. You have to factor in other things as well like overall fit and the ever-so-popular eye test to get a full perspective on things.

When you start to factor that in as well, it starts to make more sense with regard to Osman joining the starting lineup. When it comes to fit, mixing Osman with Donovan Mitchell and eventually Darius Garland (when he returns from injury) is a little bit too messy on the defensive side of the ball. Sure, Cleveland has the luxury of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen to protect the interior. But, it also limits the defensive potential of the unit as a whole, similar to how things looked when Caris LeVert began the season as the starting small forward for the Cavaliers.

In the same as LeVert, starting Osman could also limit his offensive potential as well since he would be the fifth banana on offense to start games. Osman is at his best when he gets a healthy diet of shot attempts and establishes an offensive rhythm whenever he’s on the floor. If Osman is not getting those attempts to find his tempo, all while being asked to do other things, it limits his potential out there as well.

That’s why, more than anything, Cleveland needs to have a player who can be a connective piece on either end of the floor at the starting small forward spot. That’s why Bickerstaff went with Isaac Okoro on Wednesday night in the win over the Phoenix Suns. Okoro plays incredibly hard on defense and is more than comfortable with his 4.1 attempts per game this season. A low-usage wing who plays high-end defense and is able to provide some scoring is exactly what the doctor ordered and should be what the Cavaliers roll with.

Mind you, it doesn’t mean Okoro is the permanent answer either as the starting small forward. That doesn’t exist in what’s currently established for Cleveland. But, Bickerstaff has to work with what’s given to him and having Osman act as a three-point gunner off the bench is the best way to maximize his potential.

Even with all the injuries, Mamadi Diakite and Isaiah Mobley can’t seem to get minutes with the Cavs, what gives? – Aaron F.

This is a little tricky since your question is incredibly fair considering how many injuries the Cavaliers are currently dealing with. In their latest win over the Phoenix Suns, this was the rotation for Cleveland:

  • Donovan Mitchell
  • Caris LeVert
  • Isaac Okoro
  • Evan Mobley
  • Jarrett Allen
  • Kevin Love
  • Cedi Osman
  • Raul Neto
  • Lamar Stevens

Considering Lamar Stevens only played roughly six minutes in the first half, it’s hard to truly say he was part of the rotation. But, nevertheless, the only Cleveland players that were available to play and didn’t see any action were Robin Lopez and Isaiah Mobley. Mamadi Diakite, meanwhile, was listed as inactive due to being on assignment with the Cleveland Charge despite being on the bench for the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

With that said, I think it’s just a mix of talent currently ahead of players like Mobley and Diakite and the fact that Cleveland is prioritizing using the Charge as an avenue to develop both of them. Sure, they didn’t play in the last two games earlier this week with the Charge. But, Mobley and Diakite get more opportunities to grow and develop with actual in-game opportunities versus the scraps they may get when playing with the Cavaliers.

Besides, when it comes to either player the focus shouldn’t just be on this season, it should be the next one. Cleveland will need cheap, effective back-end depth to fill their roster next season so it makes sense with what they’re doing in regard to Mobley and Diakite. Sure, it can be frustrating in the moment to not have them play due to all the current injuries. But, at the end of the day, you’d rather have them be properly equipped so that they’ll be more reliable come next season instead.

mailbag diakite bickerstaff cavs bulls
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – DECEMBER 31: Head coach J. B. Bickerstaff of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks with Mamadi Diakite #21 against the Chicago Bulls at United Center on December 31, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

When will Ricky Rubio be back? – Kelly I.

When the news initially broke that the Cavaliers hoped to have veteran guard Ricky Rubio back by the beginning of 2023, it certainly created a lot of excitement. Well, when J.B. Bickerstaff was asked if Rubio had any hurdles left to clear on Monday by Right Down Euclid, he seemed to walk it back a bit. Bickerstaff expressed he doesn’t want to put a hard timeline on Rubio’s return to the floor and is trusting the judgement of Cleveland’s medical staff.

Frankly, that’s the way to go about things since Rubio is in his mid-30s and is recovering from an ACL he’s now torn twice. Friday night against the Denver Nuggets Rubio is listed as out so he won’t make his debut this week. But, sources say there is optimism that Rubio could make his regular season debut for the Cavaliers on this ten day road trip. It all depends on how he’s doing physically and there’s no need to rush him back to the court.

Are there any trade options out there for the Cavs yet? – Michael T.

So, since this story is starting to run a bit longer, we’re going to somewhat lightning round this question. It’s been reported and league sources confirm that the Cavaliers are going to be looking to grab a wing option or two to address their need on the perimeter. In the past, Right Down Euclid reported that San Antonio’s Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott or Los Angeles’s Robert Covington and Luke Kennard could be available to Cleveland for the right price.

While it’s been quiet for the most part leading up to next month’s trade deadline, there are a few more options that have somewhat quietly emerged as well. Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanovic and Saddiq Bey are available and sources confirm that the Cavaliers could be a suitor for either of them. But, the same sources tell Right Down Euclid that the Pistons are looking for a younger prospect or serious draft compensation for either of Bogdanovic or Bey. Considering that the Cavaliers just emptied the clip to get Donovan Mitchell over the summer, pursuing either Pistons wing could prove fruitless.

That means Cleveland could always pivot and look at players like Richardson, who could keep the books clean heading into next summer, as well. Sources say that the Utah Jazz are quietly weighing all their options as they’ve come back down to earth after a hot start to the season and could offload either Rudy Gay or Malik Beasley to make room playing-wise for prospects that’ll be part of Utah’s future. Gay has a $6.5 million player option next year while Beasley has a $16.5 million team option. If neither of those two work for Cleveland, a league source did share that Portland’s Josh Hart is a player worth watching as well. Hart is a solid shooter and secondary playmaker that also plays hard on defense, something that J.B. Bickersaff wants out of his players. Any of these options on the market could lessen the need for the Cavaliers to offer a ton of compensation as well to a team like Detroit. It appears they are part of a new group that could be attainable as the trade deadline nears.

Those could all be deciding factors for Cleveland as they look at their options but this is a Cavaliers front office that typically remains patient and pragmatic. They aren’t ones that tend to overreact and won’t try to force a trade that will hamstring their future prospects as well. If anything, Ricky Rubio returning to the floor could change things a lot for Cleveland rotation-wise and possibly mitigate the pressing need on the perimeter to an extent. Rubio’s playmaking could unlock and balance players like Cedi Osman and with Dean Wade eventually returning to the floor as well, the Cavaliers could make do with what they have and shift focus to the remainder of the season.

Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at evan@downeuclid.com. He can also be found three to five times a week on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.

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