With December 15th arriving on Sunday teams are now eligible to trade the players that were signed in the offseason. It also means that the Trade Machine is open for business. So the question is this as we head into the NBA trade season: Are the Cavaliers buyers or sellers this year?
A buyer is a team looking to acquire assets that help them in the more immediate future. These moves may also improve the teams long term aspirations, but the goal is clearly to improve the product that is on the court for this year. A seller would be a team looking to move assets that no longer fit into the long term plans. Typically this is for draft picks or young prospects that the team believes may blossom. Really, you could make an argument that a team is either buying or selling in any transaction.
I believe the Cleveland Cavaliers are buyers. The team has stated that they intend to avoid being in the lottery again and while they have shown improvement lately, I would guess that Chris Grant has been calling up every team in the league looking to fill some of the holes on the Cavaliers roster. While I doubt the team is interested in making a move to ship a significant part of their young core for a few extra wins this season. I believe they are looking to make a move to fix up some of the holes as long as it doesn't jeopardize our cap flexibility heading into the summer.
So what holes exist for the Cavaliers?
The first that comes to mind is the wing. The Cavaliers probably feature the worst rotation of shooting guards and small forwards in the league. While Dion Waiters has shown brief glimpses of stellar play, he is yet to perform consistently enough on either end of the floor to be heavily relied upon. CJ Miles is a streaky shooter and sub par defender. In a perfect world Miles would be a shooter coming in off the bench and a strong locker room presence, but due to the Cavs situation he is relied upon as the teams starting shooting guard. The Cavaliers' options at small forward are Alonzo Gee and Earl Clark, a rotation that doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of opponents.
Another question mark remains at the center position. Andrew Bynum has been a pleasant surprise for the Cavaliers to this point in the season, but questions remain about his ability to stay healthy and his fit with the team. It's tough to bank on him being the starting center of the future for the Cavs and if there was a more safe option long term available I think they would make a move for one.
Like I said above, I don't think the Cavaliers are going to make any moves that jeopardize their ability to offer a max contract this summer. But here are some moves that might work:
Why this trade makes sense for the Cavaliers:
Jeremy Lamb is 22 years old, 6'5 and can really space the floor. He's very athletic and doesn't need the ball in his hands to be effective. He'd be a great fit next to Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers would hope that the competition between Lamb and Waiters would bring out the best in both players. While it isn't fun to take on the salary of Kendrick Perkins, it gives the Cavs another young impact player that they can build around.
(editor's note: OKC has Lamb play a bit of small forward. He could probably play off of and with Dion Waiters - DZ)
Why this trade makes sense for the Thunder:
Anderson Varejao is a great fit in OKC. He gives them a great pick and roll center that can knock down the midrange jumper and passes well. He'd be a deadly weapon in the Thunders offense and CJ Miles would likely excel in a role off the bench knocking down open looks. The Thunder are a legit title contender and this move would help get them that much closer to winning the Larry O'Brien trophy. The Thunder would also have the option to let Varejao walk this summer, which would open up cap room for them to make a move to acquire another center while they wait for Steven Adams to develop.
Why this trade makes sense for the Cavaliers:
It gives them an upgrade at the SF position, a capable post defender in Robin Lopez and less money tied up in a back up point guard that doesn't fit on this roster as well as we hoped in the offseason.
Why this trade makes sense for the Blazers:
Portland is currently sporting the best record in the NBA. Yet some are questioning how sustainable their success is and whether or not they can win a title. Anderson Varejao is a large upgrade over Robin Lopez as is Jarrett Jack over Mo Williams. They have the option to let go of Varejao after this season if they wish to pursue other options but it solidifies their backup PG spot and gives them a little more flexibility moving forward. In my eyes this would make them a much more serious threat to come out of the Western Conference.
Why the Cavaliers would do this:
Jared Dudley is a capable 3 and D player on a reasonable contract. DeAndre Jordan would provide rim protection to a team in need of that as well as a good option for Kyrie Irving in the pick and roll.
Why the Clippers would do this:
While I'm not sure if they would be willing to make this move, I believe that the pairing of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan just is not working for the Clippers. It's almost impossible to have them both on the floor late in close games and while Jordan is a very good defender, he's limited offensively. Varejao would be a great weapon for Chris Paul and the Clippers also receive floor spacing in Clark and Miles.
While none of these trades would drastically alter our future, I believe that they set us up for more success this season and maintain the flexibility moving forward that the Cavaliers treasure. I tried to keep these deals as even as possible, as well as sending these players to situations where they would experience team success. While it would be disappointing to see a fan favorite like Anderson Varejao get traded, seeing him on a contender would certainly make the decision easier to take.
What are your thoughts? Would you rather see the Cavaliers make a major shake up by shipping part of their core? Would you prefer to see the team stay put with what they have?