INDEPENDENCE — The Cavaliers now have three players who could be their starting small forward in 2012-13, but there isn’t a hands-down, clear-cut favorite in the bunch.
The Cavs signed restricted free agent Alonzo Gee, who started 31 games for them last season, to a reported three-year, $9.75 million contract Monday.
Previously, the Cavs signed free agent C.J. Miles. He is expected to compete with the still-improving Gee, who is probably a slight favorite in the race, and Omri Casspi, who began last season as the starter before losing the job to Gee.
Gee, 25, received a $2.7 million qualifying offer from the Cavs at the end of last season, but did not attract much interest on the free agent market, in part because Cleveland was likely to match any reasonable offer he received.
Gee averaged career highs in scoring (10.6), rebounding (5.1), assists (1.8), steals (1.3), free throw percentage (.788) and minutes (29.0) in 2011-12. In his 31 starts, the 6-foot-6, 219-pounder averaged 11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31.7 minutes.
“From the start of free agency, we made it clear that re-signing Alonzo was important to us and we’re happy we’ve been able to do that,” general manager Chris Grant said in a news release.
“Alonzo has worked very hard to make the most of the opportunities he has had thus far and it has been great to see his development and growth as a Cavalier. We’re excited he will be part of our team as our young group of players continues to grow together.”
Gee was named the 2010 NBA Development League Rookie of the Year and second-team all-league after averaging 21.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.5 steals with the Austin Toros. The University of Alabama product also played in 11 games during the 2009-10 season with the Washington Wizards.
Gee played in a combined 16 games with San Antonio and Washington in 2010-11 before signing with the Cavs on Dec. 28, 2010. He played in 40 games (29 starts) and averaged 7.4 points and 3.9 rebounds for Cleveland that season.
“I am excited to be back with the Cavs and be a part of what is being built here in Cleveland,” Gee said in a statement released by the team. “I wanted things to work out for me to be here and I’m really happy that they did.
“I’m really thankful that the Cavs gave me an opportunity and I can’t wait to get back to work with Coach (Byron) Scott and our coaches and my teammates.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.