Cavaliers exercise option on Russia’s Mozgov

Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers exercised their option for a one-year contract extension with Russian center Timofey Mozgov, pictured on June 11, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jason Miller)

CLEVELAND, June 24 – The Cleveland Cavaliers exercised their option Tuesday for a one-year contract extension with Russian center Timofey Mozgov through next season, team general manager David Griffin said.

The deal is for USD4.95m and comes a week after the Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in the sixth game of the NBA Finals, handing the Warriors their first crown in 40 years and missing the chance to bring the city of Cleveland its first sports champion since 1964.

The option used by the Cavaliers was one of the reasons they obtained Mozgov from Denver last season for two first-round picks in the NBA Draft, ensuring they would have the 7-footer for a second season at a relative bargain price.

From the time Mozgov arrived as a replacement for Anderson Varejao after the Brazilian big man suffered a torn Achilles tendon, the Cavaliers played better and better and grew into a championship threat after a 19-20 start.

In 45 regular-season starts for the Cavaliers last season, Mozgov had 10.6 points and 6.9 rebounds. During Cleveland’s playoff run, Mozgov averaged 10.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks over 20 games.

When injuries sidelined star forward Kevin Love and star guard Kyrie Irving, Mozgov at times became the team’s second offensive option after superstar LeBron James.

Mozgov’s 55.5 percent shooting from the field ranked fourth in the NBA.

The Cavaliers could have up to 10 free agents, including LeBron James, who has a player option to return next season, as do Love and guard J.R. Smith.

Australian guard Matthew Dellavedova is among those expected to receive an offer from the club before the start of free agency on July 1.