No matter how many names emerge from the impending Camp Cavs this week, the name that will continue to make the most sense is former LeBron teammate Mario Chalmers.
The move would satisfy a number of needs for the Cavaliers: a pass-first point guard that can shoot from distance. Not to mention a player who has won championships at all three levels, and with LeBron James at the NBA level.
Chalmers has been a beacon of consistency in his NBA career, with a near-linear increase in multiple categories as usage percentage rose.
The now 30-year old point guard was having arguably his best season of his career after LeBron left for the North Coast and Chalmers had a rebirth by being dealt from South Beach. Chalmers was utilized more in 55 games in Memphis than in eight years in Miami, and continued to produce at the same level before being lost to injury.
It was that injury, a torn Achilles, that has kept Chalmers from a return to the NBA to this point. CBSSports.com’s Chris Towers, among others, profiled the careers of players coming off of the injury, and the results are not good.
According to Towers, the minutes of 12 players since 1992 to rupture their Achilles fell by an average of 27 percent in the following year, with the bright spot being Dominique Wilkins’ improvement after suffering the injury.
Chauncey Billups and Kobe Bryant saw their following seasons end after just a handful of games in their return, both being shut down at some point the next year. The likes of Voshon Leonard, Mehmet Okur and Dan Dickau saw their careers come to a crashing halt following the injury. Cavs fans can vouch for the impact, if they remember the change in Anderson Varejao’s game before and after a ruptured Achilles.
Kings forward Rudy Gay was the most recent star to be hit with the task of a long road back.
All of this being said, Chalmers has not been ruled out of consideration for LeBron’s new “playmaker” job creation efforts, and he should not be.
In his study, Towers found that the usage percentage of those returning from Achilles tears did not fall drastically, but their efficiencies did.
Between that trend and the notion that players like Billups and Kobe saw their next seasons derailed by injuries that were more than likely related to nursing their old issues, Chalmers presents a number of potential issues.
Does David Griffin bank on Chalmers’ consistency and championship pedigree, or will he be scared away by a potential setback at a position that has been made by some to be of dire need and complete necessity for a repeat?
Looking at the names coming to Cleveland for a tryout, Chalmers remains the near-obvious fit on paper, but the reason he is unemployed may be the reason he remains that way.