The Cavaliers entered the summer free agent shopping period in search of a backup point guard, a shooter and a veteran with great leadership skills who also had playoff experience.
In Jarrett Jack, they found all of that.
The Cavaliers agreed Saturday to a four-year, $29 million deal with the veteran combo guard, a league source confirmed. The fourth year is a team option and the deal isn’t official until the moratorium period ends on July 10, but the Cavs privately believe Jack’s addition may give them the best three-guard rotation in the Eastern Conference.
Jack was arguably part of the best three-guard rotation in the Western Conference last season, when he joined Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in the Golden State Warriors’ surprising march to the conference semifinals.
Jack averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 assists in primarily a backup role with the Warriors, although he has plenty of experience throughout his career as a starter. His willingness to come off the bench is part of what made him so appealing to the Cavaliers. While more talented guards like Darren Collison remain unsigned, the Cavs’ starting backcourt is set with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
Jack can play either guard spot and provides insurance in case Irving goes down again to injury. Irving has already missed 38 games in two seasons, but now the Cavs have a viable backup should he be injured again.
Jack’s signing signaled the end of Shaun Livingston’s time in Cleveland and perhaps Wayne Ellington’s, too. Livingston was waiting on the Cavs and reportedly signed with the Brooklyn Nets for the veteran’s minimum within hours of the Cavs completing the deal with Jack.
The Cavs did not extend to Ellington a qualifying offer in hopes of upgrading the guard position. The expectation is that Jack can replace what both Livingston and Ellington provided.
He made $5.4 million last season with the Warriors and has played for five teams in eight years. He shot 40 percent on 3-pointers last season and 45 percent overall. Jack will turn 30 around the start of the season, and while there is always risk giving a player that old three guaranteed years, the Cavs felt comfortable given Jack’s proven durability.
He has played in at least 79 games in seven of his eight seasons and his only significant injury was a stress fracture in his foot two seasons ago.
Jack’s signing continues a surprising spending surge by the Cavaliers, who have consistently avoided free agency since this rebuilding project began. In Chris Grant’s first three summers as Cavs general manager, the club has spent less than $7 million on unrestricted free agents.
They have already spent more than $23 million in guaranteed dollars on Jack and Earl Clark, and that figure jumps to $38 million counting option years. And they aren’t done yet. The Cavs are still expected to add another big, either through trade or free agency, before training camp opens in October.
Jack’s deal is significant because it’s the first guaranteed money the Cavs have committed to a free agent during the summer of 2013, but there is still enough flexibility within the payroll to allow the Cavs to offer a max contract during next summer’s talent-rich free agent period.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.