Is rising Hood a keeper for the Cavaliers?

Sam Amico

So far, the Cleveland Cavaliers have liked what they've seen from Rodney Hood.

Despite being plagued by what seems to be an on-again-off-again lower back issue, Hood has been finding his way nicely following the Cavs' Feb. 8 trade with the Utah Jazz.

In Cleveland, Hood has filled in as both backup small forward and starting shooting guard, playing where and when the coaching staff needs without a hint of drama or complaint.

Hood is mostly known for his ability to spread the floor with 3-pointers, but is also athletic enough to drive and finish near the rim.

While the 6-foot-8 swingman isn't the biggest name hitting free agency this summer (LeBron James, anyone?), Hood will enter July in search of a new contract. Unlike James, Hood will be a restricted free agent -- meaning if he signs with another team, the Cavs will have the ability to match the offer and keep him.

According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, keeping Hood appears to be what the Cavaliers intend to do.

"The prevailing thought around the Cavaliers is that Hood is not a rental," Kyler wrote in his extensive look at restricted free agency. "The Cavs made the deal to acquire Hood not only for the short term, but to re-sign him this summer."

In fact, James' free-agent decision isn't likely to impact what the Cavs intend to do with Hood.

"[T]he belief is even if James leaves, Hood is a good future piece to build around making his next deal something of a formality," Kyler wrote.

Hood, 25, is earning in the neighborhood of $2.3 million this season, with a $3.4 million qualifying offer awaiting.

Granted, he is likely to make more next season, but if the Cavs like him enough (and it seems they do), that won't really matter.

"There is a window in which another team could try to poach Hood with a hefty offer, but given where the Cavs are cap wise, there is zero reason not to match, even a crazy offer," Kyler wrote.

Entering the weekend, Hood was averaging 10.6 points on a career-best .424 percent shooting in 16 games with Cleveland.