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If your first inclination is to think that the future first round pick Cleveland will get from Memphis is the best asset the Cavaliers got from the trade for Jon Leuer, you won't find any argument from me. In all likelihood, Cleveland will get a late lottery pick from Memphis in either 2015 or 2016. It is going to be awesome. But the trade also brings back a couple players who have some real NBA skills. Let's take a look.
Speights a guy who should step into the rotation pretty quickly. He is 25, and is a good rebounder, especially offensively. The 6'10 250 pound power forward is also a pretty good shooter, and can run the pick and pop with success. He isn't a guy who should be starting or getting heavy minutes, but as a rotation big you can do much worse (and the Cavs have been doing much worse). I am interested to see how he would fit in with Tristan Thompson. Technically they play the same position, but Speights can stretch the floor a bit. Speights isn't very quick, and his effort level defensively isn't great, but maybe he can buy into Coach Scott's system. Lionel Hollins is known for preaching defensive intensity, so it is hard to hold out much hope that he somehow finds it in Cleveland. He also goes from being a youngish player in Memphis to being an elder statesmen in Cleveland, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out. The bottom line is he represents a major rebounding and even defensive upgrade over Luke Walton and Tyler Zeller, guys who should see their minutes go down a bit as Speights acclimates himself in Cleveland. I would be happy, after 3 or 4 games to adjust, to see Zeller's minutes go down to about 25 per game, and Walton's to cease to exist entirely.
As for next season, Speights has a $4.5 million player option that I would expect him to exercise. It isn't a major drag on the Cavaliers' projected cap space, and a full offseason in Coach Scott's system could be helpful. In limited minutes he has had an above average Player Efficiency Rating his whole career. $4.5 million seems reasonably fair.
Ellington is an interesting player. I really liked him coming out of college because I figured he would be a serviceable wing defender and a really good shooter. He hasn't actually become what I hoped for him. At 6'4 he is a bit undersized, and doesn't have much speed or agility. He is utterly incapable of creating for himself, but still does pretty well as a spot-up shooter. For the season he is shooting over 42% from three, though much of his damage has been done in a few games surrounded by mediocrity. Almost like another shooting guard the Cavaliers employ ... He actually does better defensively than you might think, and is pretty smart. He will be an upgrade over Miles and Gibson defensively, and will provide about the same shooting touch. I am curious to see how he does with Kyrie Irving, and even Dion Waiters, both of whom should be able to get him open shots. He will also play within the offense and not force things. I really wouldn't be surprised if Ellington ends up being favored by Byron Scott over CJ Miles by the end of the season.
In theory, Ellington creates a bit of a logjam at the SG position, but I don't think it will really play out that way. Waiters will continue to play as sort of a combo guard, and Daniel Gibson's time is borrowed. I think Miles will see more time at small forward and Gee will finally see his minutes reduced. I wouldn't mind seeing some Irving-Ellington-Gee-Thompson-Speights line-ups. Ellington and Miles may be auditioning to see who backs up Waiters next season. Ellington is a restricted free agent with a $3 million tender the Cavs will decide whether or not to extend. Miles has a $2.25 million option the Cavs can pick up or let go. Both are 25, but I like that Ellington can play within an offense and is a bit more consistent defensively. Miles can play two positions and create his own offense. Should be fun to see it play out.
Finally, the Cavaliers are bringing in Josh Selby, a former one-and-done player from Kansas. He is a point guard who can't pass or finish at the rim. He has good size and can defend. He is 21, and had a ton of hype coming out of high school. If the age requirement didn't exist for the NBA, he might have been a lottery pick. He struggled at Kansas, and has struggled in the pros. There have been hints that he could develop into an NBA point guard, but you have to look pretty hard for them. The Cavaliers have time to be patient, but I am not all that sure they will be or even should. His contract is not guaranteed for next season, and I would be surprised if he makes the roster. Still, taking a flier on a guy who just 3 years ago was considered a top prospect is exactly the type of thing a team like Cleveland should be doing.