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Cavaliers come out firing in free agency, get deals with LeVert, Niang

CLEVELAND (AP) – The Cavaliers came out firing in free agency.

Looking to improve its roster after an illuminating playoff exit, Cleveland agreed to deals with forwards Caris LeVert and Georges Niang in the first hour yesterday.

LeVert, who bounced back and forth between starter and reserve last season, agreed to a two-year, USD32 million contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

Niang agreed to a three-year, USD26 million deal with Cleveland, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, told AP.

The moves improve the Cavs’ depth and gives them two proven veterans – and in Niang, a solid outside shooter – to go along with their young core of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen following a 51-win season.

And Cleveland might not be done. The Cavs have been involved in talks about a potential sign-and-trade with Miami for shooting guard Max Strus, who has drawn interest from several teams following his breakout season. Strus would give Cleveland another needed outside threat.

Caris Levert. PHOTO: AP

Niang, who played the past two seasons with Philadelphia, will be reunited in Cleveland with Mitchell, his former teammate for three seasons in Utah. Mitchell quickly responded to the Cavs’ move, posting “Minivan”, Niang’s nickname on his Twitter page.

The 30-year-old Niang also has extensive playoff experience, something in short supply in Cleveland. Niang has played in 46 postseason games.

Cavs general manager Koby Altman vowed he would not be making “sweeping” changes following Cleveland’s stunning first-round playoff exit. Altman, though, has addressed some major needs for the Cavs, who ended their postseason drought before being bullied and ousted by the New York Knicks in the playoffs.

The person spoke to AP on LeVert’s deal on condition of anonymity because league rules prohibit teams from officially announcing deals until next week.

LeVert averaged 12.1 points, 3.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds in his first full season with Cleveland. He was expected to have a larger role before the Cavs acquired All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell in a blockbuster trade last summer.

Still, the 28-year-old LeVert, who came to Cleveland midway through the 2022 season, found his niche and was also one of the team’s best on-ball defenders.