On NBA TV during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Summer League game, coach Tyronn Lue said that the team had signed Chris “Birdman” Andersen. Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com reported that the “deal isn’t complete, but [the] team hopes to close.”
Andersen was a teammate of LeBron’s when he was with the Miami Heat and was a member of the 2013 championship team. The 38-year-old center was traded by the Heat mid-way through last season to the Memphis Grizzlies to lower their luxury tax. Memphis is the fourth franchise Birdman has played for in his 14-year career after going undrafted out of Blinn College.
While he bounced around between the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, Andersen emerged as a feared shot blocker despite playing limited minutes. In 2008-09, he blocked 175 shots at an average of 2.5 a game; both were good for second in the league, and he appeared in less than 21 minutes a game on average. According to Basketball-Reference, Manute Bol is the only other player in NBA history to block 175 shots in less than 1,500 minutes played.
Adding Andersen would bolster a Cavalier frontline that’s short on bodies. With Timofey Mozgov gone, Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love remain as the two clear options to play up front. Andersen would provide great defensive energy for short bursts; similar to Andrew Bogut except Andersen has gotten better at staying out of foul trouble — it’s not a knock, but Birdman knew he was only getting limited minutes, so clearly he’d play as hard as he could in that time.
Cleveland played a ton of small ball in the Finals to matchup with Golden State, but a healthy Chris Andersen would allow them to win some games in the regular season and in the early rounds of the playoffs.