Cleveland Cavaliers big men Marques Bolden, Jarell Martin battling for roster’s final spot for 2019-20 season

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland Cavaliers brought in a host of camp invites for the preseason, and two players have made the first cuts.

Big men Marques Bolden and Jarell Martin made the Cavs’ first round of cuts after the team’s preseason finale against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, a 118-95 loss. The Cavaliers finished the preseason 1-3.

Cleveland waived Sindarius Thornwell, Daniel Hamilton, J.P. Macura and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. The current roster is at 16 players.

A 21-year-old rookie out of Duke, Bolden scored two points and grabbed three rebounds during 21 minutes of action on Tuesday. Known as a rim protector who can score inside, Bolden talked before the game about how he felt he could contribute.

“Just by showing energy,” he said. “I feel like they got a lot of guys who have a lot of established roles already. So, for me coming in being my first year, I just feel like energy is something that’s always needed. No matter what team it is.”

Bolden didn’t have his best preseason game against the Celtics. Then again, the Cavs didn’t feed it inside much. Bolden only had two shot attempts.

Bolden’s hallmark is his defense. In games against a team from Argentina and the Detroit Pistons, Bolden had three blocks. He didn’t have any in 40 minutes over two games against the Celtics, but did manage nine points and four rebounds in Sunday’s road loss in Boston.

One energetic play stood out Tuesday. During the third quarter, Bolden’s dunk attempt was blocked by Celtics guard Max Strus, but he got his own rebound and converted the put-back. In four games, Bolden has averaged 4.0 points a game and 2.8 rebounds, shooting 77.8% from the field.

“I feel like it’s been going good,” Bolden said before the game. “It’s a learning process. Obviously, it’s my first time doing any of this so, kind of taking it all in. But it’s been going good, though.”

Martin, a four-year NBA pro out of LSU, had one of his best games in the preseason finale. In the starting lineup for a second straight game, he scored a preseason-high nine points, going 2-of-6 from three. Before Tuesday, the 6-10 Martin was shooting 1-of-10 from the 3-point line.

Along with his scoring, Martin also grabbed seven rebounds and had an assist. He worked occasionally around the top of the key, looking to feed cutters. On one pass he set up rookie Darius Garland as Garland made a back cut into the paint.

For Bolden, continuing to show energy around the rim is his best opportunity to make the team. For Martin, his jumper hasn’t been up to par – and he’s taken more threes than he should. But on Tuesday, he showed he can play around the high post and be an outlet for when the ball starts to stick.

With the Cavs shortening their roster, Martin or Bolden will compete for the last spot – if the Cavs choose to fill it. If so, the Cavs would likely use the second of their two two-way contracts, which allow a player to spend most of his season in the G League while being with the NBA team for 45 days. Rookie forward Dean Wade is already under such a contract.

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