With the NBA trade deadline looming and rumors aplenty, all the news these days seems to be dominated by the Cleveland Cavaliers search for a back-up point guard.
The defending champs have worked out a quartet of jobless (read: free agent) PGs, including Mario Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich, Jordan Farmar and Lance Stephenson, and are reportedly going to sign one of the veterans soon.
According to 247 Sports, Stephenson, he of the infamous blowing in the ear incident with LeBron James a while back, seems to be the most likely candidate, due to his athleticism and ability to score when healthy. He is also the youngest of the four at age 26.
Considering the high profile of being on the Cavaliers roster and the fact the team is trying to shake off a dismal 7-8 record in January, we believe the Cavs should be prudent and expand their search.
There are several decent to good point guards toiling in the D-League and overseas who could also fill the bill, some names recognizable enough to add cache to the squad. Here are 10 of them.
10. Elijah Millsap
If that last name sounds familiar, it is. Elijah is the brother of Atlanta Hawks star forward Paul Millsap. The 29-year-old former member of the Utah Jazz currently plays shooting guard for the Northen Arizona Suns, Phoenix’s D-League affiliate. The undrafted University of Alabama Birmingham guard is 6’6″ but athletic enough to play point as well, and this season he is averaging 19.1 points and four assists per game with Northern Arizona. In his two-year stint with Utah after bouncing around the D-League and Europe, Millsap saw action in 67 games between 2014-15 and 2015-16. He averaged 4.2 PPG, 1.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and shot .284 from three-point range.
9. Pooh Jeter
If the Cavalier want to fill that spot vacated by the departure of Matthew Dellavedova, they might want to look east, far east that is. Eugene “Pooh” Jeter, a graduate of Portland University, last suited up in the NBA with Sacramento in 2010-11 and is currently playing for the Tianjin Gold Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association. He got in 62 games with the Kings, starting one game, and averaged 4.1 points, 2.6 assists, 1.1 rebounds and a .409 field goal percentage. He leads the Gold Lions in points per game (27.4), assists (7.4) and steals (1.8). Jeter, curiously, is also a naturalized Ukrainian citizen, his naturnalized name being Yudzhin Dzheter. The former D-League and CBA all-star helped the Ukrainian national team qualify for the FIBA World Cup in 2013.
8. Quinn Cook
Funny that there has been no mention of the Cavaliers looking in their own back yard for help. Quinn Cook, who toils for Cleveland’s D-League affiliate Canton Charge, was the league’s rookie of the year in 2016 and a former NCAA champion and second team All-American at Duke. The 23-year-old point guard averaged 19.6 PPG, 5.4 assists, 1.2 steals and shot 38.2 percent from three-point range in his rookie D-League season. He has been on a tear so far this year too for the Charge, leading his team in minutes (38.6), assists (6.0), game played (28) and points (25.5). The native of Washington, who went undrafted after his senior year at Duke, has seemingly done enough to earn a call-up to the big club, including a franchise record 49 points in a game earlier this season.
7. Phil Pressey
Despite a standout career with the Missouri Tigers and being one of 60 NCAA players invited to the 2013 NBA draft combine, Phil Pressey never was selected in that year’s draft. Nonetheless, the current member of the D-League’s Santa Cruz Warriors impressed the Boston Celtics enough to earn a back-up spot for the 2013-14 season. He started 11 of 75 games and averaged 2.8 points, 3.2 assists and 0.9 steals per game. After that season, he has played 73 games the last two campaigns, 50 more with Boston and then 14 games in Philly and nine with Phoenix in 2015-16. He signed with Cleveland arch enemy Golden State’s affiliate this year and is currently leading Santa Cruz in points (19.4), steals (2.2) and assists (6.7). The lone bad point of his game is turnovers, which were cited as a reason NBA scouts advised against drafting him.
6. Jimmer Fredette
Jimmer Fredette, the 2011 NCAA Player of the Year and former first round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks, is absolutely huge in China. After being selected 10th overall in 2011, the BYU Cougars alumnus bounced around the NBA for five seasons before finding himself with the Shanghai Sharks of the CBA this year. In 235 NBA games with Sacramento, New Orleans, Chicago and New York, Fredette averaged 6.0 points, 1.4 assists, a .381 three-point shooting percentage and .412 overall shooting percentage. A dual shooting/point guard, Fredette, who started “Jimmermania” as a rookie in Sacramento, has lit up the CBA with Shanghai. He scored a career high 51 points in a game in November, and is averaging a monster 37.0 PPG, as well as a team-leading 4.6 assists and 1.8 steals.
5. Josh Magette
Magette is one of those players who has flown under the radar, but put up the kind of stats as a point guard that should put him in contention for a NBA job some day. For the past three years with the D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders, Magette has been one of the league’s best PGs. This season, the graduate of UAB-Huntsville leads the D-League in assists with 9.8. He has 15.0 points per game in 30 contests, along with 4.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals and a 37.6 percent success rate from beyond the arc. A floor general without peer in the NBDL, Magette has assisted on 38.9 percent of his team’s field goals and is currently ranked 8th in league history with 993 total assists.
4. Xavier Munford
Munford, like Josh Magette, was another product of a small school (University of Rhode Island) who has gone on to do very well as a pro. And while he has played just 14 games in the NBA, the 6’3″ native of Hillside, New Jersey has done enough to put his name in contention for a job. He was a D-League All-Star last season with the Bakersfield Jam, averaging 20.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game. That star turn earned him his 14-game stint with Memphis last year, where he averaged 17.4 minutes per game, 5.7 points, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals and a .416 field goal percentage. He began the D-League season with the Greensboro Swarm, but got picked up by Spanish power FC Barcelona Lassa for the remainder of this season.
3. Carlos Arroyo
Now that we’re down to the final three, we will focus on older veterans, since the Cavs seemed intent to try out 30-somethings Kirk Hinrich (36), Mario Chalmers (30) and Jordan Farmar (30). Puerto Rican national Carlos Arroyo is still kicking around, 15 years after debuting in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors. The veteran of 559 NBA regular season contests has gone home to roost, playing with Leones de Ponce of Puerto Rico’s Baloncesto Superior Nacional. As well as playing with Toronto, the 37-year-old put in time with Utah, Denver, Detroit, Orlando, Miami and Boston. He averaged 6.6 points, 3.1 assists, 1.7 rebounds and shot 43.8 percent from the floor during his career. In addition to being a former NBAer, Arroyo has international cred, having led the Puerto Rican national team to an upset of the U.S. at the 2004 Olympics.
2. Will Bynum
Buried in the D-League is a guy who had his 15 minutes of fame in the NBA. Will Bynum, a veteran of 360 big league games, once scored a Detroit Pistons’ franchise record 26 points in the fourth quarter of a game in 2009. He followed that up by registering 20 assists in a game for Detroit the following season, the first time that feat had been performed since Isiah Thomas did it 25 years earlier. Undrafted out of Georgia Tech, Bynum debuted with the Golden State Warriors in 2005-06 and went on to play six seasons in Detroit and seven games with Washington during the 2014-15 season. He averaged 8.1 points, 3.3 assists and shot 44.2 percent from the field during his 360-game career. This season with the Windy City Bulls of the D-League, Bynum is averaging 15.9 points and 5.5 assists per game.
1. Stephon Marbury
For pure name recognition alone, former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury would be a good fit as back-up in Cleveland. And we’re willing to bet that if Cleveland rung him up in China, he would be on the first flight back to the U.S. He is considered the best foreign national to ever suit up in the CBA and has won three championships with his Beijing Ducks team since 2012. Marbury, selected fourth overall by Milwaukee in 1996 out of Georgia Tech, would go on to a career punctuated by success and controversy. The 39-year-old played in 846 games in the NBA, averaging 19.3 PPG, 7.6 assists and 1.2 steals. He was an all-star in 2001 and 2003 and was a two-time member of the All-NBA Third Team (2000, 2003). Marbury leads the Ducks in scoring this year with 22.1 points per game, as well as assists (5.6) and steals (1.7).