Reporting Chris Fedor
INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) - The last few offseasons the Cavs have left free agency to the other 29 teams in the NBA. Not this year.
The Cavs signed guard Jarrett Jack and forward Earl Clark to contracts on Friday morning.
“Earl and Jarrett are both tough, competitive, team-first players that have the ability to impact the game on both ends of the court,” General Manager Chris Grant said from Cleveland Clinic Courts.
“We think they are great fits for us that can help us grow and improve as a team and we’re looking forward to them joining our core,” he added.
Jack, 29, averaged 12.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 79 games for the Golden State Warriors last season.
He’s a player that Grant has had his eye on for a long time.
“I’ve known him since his days at Georgia Tech. When I was in Atlanta when we tried to trade up and get him. It took a few years but finally got him,” Grant said.
After getting a taste of the playoffs this past season, both Jack and Clark are looking forward to delivering that to Cavs fans that had to suffer through a 24-win season a year ago.
“That’s the thing that drives all of us,” Jack said. “People tend to forget that when I joined Golden State they had won 24 games. Taking on challenges is something I pride myself on,” he added.
Jack’s role will still be determined by Head Coach Mike Brown, but it’s clear why he was one of the team’s top targets this offseason.
“He’s probably one of the most highly regarded leaders in the game,” Grant said of Jack.
He will be asked to be a mentor for his backcourt ‘mates and take All-Star Kyrie Irving to the next level.
“He’s obviously a tremendous talent,” Jack said of Irving.
“He’s taken the league by storm in a very, very short amount of time. I feel (he) can definitely be a leader and that will be the thing I will be pushing him forward to do,” he added.
It’s a role Jack relishes. It’s one that he held last season in Golden State. It’s one he has acquired through experience in the NBA.
“The one thing I’ve learned in this league is that there are two types of guys,” Jack said. There are guys that love basketball and there are guys that love the lifestyle. From what I know of these guys on my team I feel like we have guys that really love basketball to the core. I think if we use the mentality that we are going to go out there and put somebody’s goals in front of your own, I think that will leave us in a great space. That’s what I try to preach.”
Clark, 25, averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 59 games for the Los Angeles Lakers last season. He has spent time at power forward and small forward during his NBA career.
“Earl has really come into his own as a player,” Grant said. “We saw him do some dynamic things last year for the Lakers. He has the ability because of his toughness,size, length and athleticism to guard those big wing players that we faced in the Eastern Conference.”
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Luol Deng and Rudy Gay are just a few of the players Clark will see manning the small forward spot in the Eastern Conference.
It’s a challenge he doesn’t shy away from.
“Since I have been in the NBA that has been my M.O,” Clark said. “That’s something that comes easy to me. I like the challenge of guarding the best player out there. I’m excited to go out and play some defense,” he added.
The offseason isn’t over. Turning around a 24-win team isn’t easy but Grant likes the direction the team is heading.
“We have good momentum,” he said. “We’re very happy with where we are. I wouldn’t say everything is perfect but we’re very happy with the progress we have made.”
He added, “We went into this offseason and we wanted to add leadership, we wanted to add toughness, we wanted to add playoff experience and we wanted to add guys that could complement the culture and foundation that we already have in place and continue to build upon.”