With Stephen Curry continuing to dominate in the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers have to be thinking about letting DeAndre Liggins go.
After being released from the Miami Heat in the Spring of 2014, DeAndre Liggins spent the next season out of the league before finding a home in Cleveland in August of 2016.
Liggins would make the final roster for the Cavs and would go on to play the next eight months for the Cavaliers.
He appeared in 61 games for the Cavs and would find himself starting in 19 of those games. He would only average just over 12 minutes a game and a few points a game, but was primarily needed for one purpose…defense.
Everyone knows about the greatness of Kyrie Irving, but most people would also agree that Irving is a liability on the defensive side of the ball.
Last year, Cleveland had their counter for Irving in Matthew Dellavedova. Dellavedova spent three seasons in Cleveland and gained his reputation as a gritty, hard-nosed defender that could annoy any opposing points guard.
Dellavedova obviously left last offseason for greener pastures and a bigger paycheck in Milwaukee. All of a sudden, Cleveland had a hole to fill in their defense.
Enter DeAndre Liggins.
Standing at 6’6″ with a 7’0″ wingspan as a combo guard, defense is what Liggins specializes in. On March 31, 2017, Liggins played 17 minutes in a 17 point win for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Eight days later, Cleveland surprisingly announced they had waived Liggins to open up a roster spot.
The 29-year-old Liggins would be claimed by the Dallas Mavericks and appear in the last game of the season for the Mavs.
Cleveland would go on to add Deron Williams as a backup guard looking for more scoring off the bench.
Now, as Cleveland is down 0-3 in the NBA Finals, bench scoring isn’t the problem. Putting quality defenders on the floor to help slow down the dynamic back court of Golden State is a problem.
Yeah, Steph Curry is .3 rebounds and one assist away from averaging a triple double in the Finals.
Would DeAndre Liggins change the whole outcome of this series? Absolutely not. Would he have guarded Curry better than anyone on the current roster? Absolutely.
What is Deron Williams’ Finals stat line? zero points, 0-11 from the field in 36 minutes of play.
Cleveland went for the seasoned vet, but now need a quick, long defender more than anything. Now, Liggins has moved on to Dallas where his new owner is enamored with him for the exact reasons that he is missed in Cleveland.
“He’s long, he knows how to defend, he likes to defend, he shot 38 percent from three, he can move the ball and he’s played some point forward,” Mark Cuban said to Mavs.com.
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Back in December, LeBron James gave Liggins the highest of praise when he compared Liggins’ grit and role to that of Dellavedova when he talked to Cleveland.com.
"“What Delly gave us was grit,” James said. “Delly gave us a grit like ‘I don’t care what y’all say, I’m out on this floor to defend.”“We lost that in Delly and rightfully so for the first part of the season, first few weeks we was missing that. Liggs gives us that. He gives us that pit bull out on the floor that’s like, ‘I’m here to just work. I’m going to make you work every single possession. I know you don’t know my name yet, I know you don’t know my game yet or what I’m about, but I’m going to make you work.’“We’ve got that in Liggs. And that’s huge for our team,” James said to Cleveland.com"
That is some high praise from his teammate in LeBron James.
James would notably go on to call Liggins a “diamond in the rough” for their current Cavs team.
Three and a half months later, Cleveland cut Liggins for a roster spot.
Whether it is admitted or not, the decision to cut Liggins is a decision that has been thought about throughout the organization over the past week and a decision they have to regret.