NBA Trade Deadline Rumors: Cavaliers Mailbag Answers

David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

The trade deadline is just a couple days away. Let's see what the Cavaliers can and should do.

First of all, thank you for all of the awesome questions. There were a ton that I received via email, comments and twitter. I will try and answer as many as I can here, but if I missed out on them, feel free to re-ask them in the comments and I will get an opinion in. We will start with the trade deadline stuff, and then I got in a few other topics as well. I couldn't get to everything, because 2700 words is ridiculous enough. Here we go:

Trade Deadline

Who is a surprise star that might be available at the deadline or over the summer, a la James Harden or Deron Williams? - Jeff Nomina, from I Go Hard Now

The biggest "surprise" guy I could see coming on the market between now and next year's trade deadline would be Chris Bosh. Miami has this year, and next year with their Big Three, and probably can't afford to be in the luxury tax every single year. If they could get young assets for Bosh that wouldn't totally kill their chances a title in 2014, I could see them trying to prevent a total collapse should Bosh and LeBron James decide to move on in free agency. Also, young assets may even help in a last-ditch effort to keep James in town. Brian Windhorst has reported that he doesn't believe Bosh is that happy in Miami, which is another reason he could possibly get moved. Still, Miami would be hard pressed to break up an enormously successful trio. But isn't that exactly why people said Harden wouldn't get moved?

In terms of a surprise guy that the Cavaliers would get excited about, there is the perpetually disgruntled Kevin Love. I would be shocked if Minnesota really moved him, and the way that Tristan Thompson has developed while proving to be durable makes me wonder just how great of a deal it would be for the Cavs. Don't get me wrong, If you can move Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller, this year's 6th overall pick (or where ever we land) for Kevin Love, I think you have to do it. But Tristan is at least making it sort of interesting, and more worthwhile for Minnesota.

If we can’t trade Speights for value, can we sign him to an extension after the trade deadline? Is there a limit to how long we can wait? - MatthewH

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, players signed to contracts of four years or less cannot have their contracts extended during the life of a contract. This applies to Speights. Marreese Speights has a player option for next season that he can choose whether or not to exercise. I would put the chances of him opting out of his contract at about 95% which would make him an unrestricted free agent. He seems to like Cleveland, and would probably give the Cavaliers a fair shot at him in the off-season. But ultimately it would probably come down to who offers him the most money. Conrad and I disagree about this, but it isn't difficult at all for me to see a team offering him three years and $20 million or so. There are a lot of teams with max cap space, and whatever you think of Speights, he seems to me like a solid first big off the bench.

With us having holes at both the 3 & 5, do you see us relatively trading to fill one of those spots? - xfl2001fan

Not this week. It doesn't appear that the Cavaliers are all that interested in spending much money between now and 2014, for whatever reason, so unless they get blown away by an offer for someone like Marcin Gortat, I can't really see it. If the Cavaliers are anxious to fill the spots with real starters (and oh, how I wish they would) they could make a run at Chase Budinger this summer, who will be an unrestricted free agent. He has been out for most of the year due to injury, but he is a really productive player when healthy.

If you think Gortat is worth it, here is a potential trade (Gortat and Channing Frye for Alonzo Gee, Daniel Gibson, and Luke Walton, and the Memphis and Sacramento picks) that might work for the Suns, if they figure out what they actually want. They seem to be in no-man's land, much like the Kings. This trade saves the Suns a lot of money, and would also give them the Memphis and Sacramento picks. An interesting thing to note is that Gortat actually has a PER lower than Tristan Thompson. He is a significant upgrade over Tyler Zeller, and is a viable long-term starter, but he might not be as good as people want him to be.

If the Cavaliers trade Speights, what is a good fit for him? - A lot of people asked about Speights.

This is the most interesting decision the Cavaliers have to make. Does Cleveland keep Speights, let him play out the year and help the development of our young players, and then try to re-sign him to a reasonable deal? Or trade him while his value is high for assets. And what can we get for him? The first thing to do is isolate some contenders and pseudo-contenders that could use him. While nearly everyone could use a quality big, the Spurs, Celtics, Thunder, Atlanta, Miami and perhaps Portland seem to be pretty good spots for him. Here are a couple possible moves that can be made:

Portland - Alright, I literally couldn't come up with anything that made sense for both teams (and neither could Sam). I would like to believe this blog is better than just making up dumb trades (though you may think of my other trades as bad so who knows where the bar is) so let's just move on.

Boston (Speights for Courtney Lee, Fab Melo, and Boston's 1st Round pick) - This trade would also move Boston's 1st this summer to Cleveland. Saves Boston long-term money, and keeps them under the tax this year. The Cavaliers would then let Ellington go over the summer or try and move him in another deal. Fab Melo could develop into reliable defensive big off the bench and Cavs get serviceable backup SG moving forward. Makes less sense with Ellington playing so well.

Atlanta (Speights for Johan Petro and Atlanta's 1st Round pick) - Sam made this trade, and I like it a lot. This would also send Atlanta's first round pick to Cleveland, and is most likely contingent upon the Hawks trading Smith. Speights would be able to slide in and keep the Hawks in playoff contention. I will add that even if Hawks keep Smith, Speights is an upgrade for their bench, and maybe they can win a playoff series or two.

Oklahoma City (Speights for Eric Maynor, Hasheem Thabeet, and a future 1st Round pick) - Cavaliers get Eric Maynor, who has fallen out of the Thunder rotation, and Hasheem Thabeet who could actually help the defense a little bit, and is still young. Cavs would also receive a first round pick, though probably not the Toronto one. This keeps OKC under the tax, but just barely. Bonus: Could help the Thunder beat the Heat.

Do you see the Cavs trading Walton and Boobie for someone with a big contract for 2013-2014 if they can get a #1 pick in return? - Jeff, via email

I could be wrong, but I don't see the Cavaliers getting too much back for either of these guys. The Cavaliers seem to really like having Walton around for leadership and his ability to keep ball movement going with some of the young guys. I don't think they will trade him. Gibson's value is really small at this point. He has been hurt or terrible all year. There is no way to sugarcoat it. He is looking at playing for something close to the league minimum next season. Expiring deals do have some value, but I think more valuable at this deadline will be pure cap space, where teams like Boston, Chicago, and Golden State shave money off THIS year's cap number to avoid paying the luxury tax and help avoid a repeater taxpayer status in future years. To give you a scenario of where your scenario plays out, though, Golden State is a possible option. The Warriors need to cut $1.2 million this year to get under the tax, and would love to avoid paying Richard Jefferson and/or Andris Biedrins next season. This trade gets them (Richard Jefferson for Daniel Gibson and Alonzo Gee) under the tax and nets Cleveland a future first round pick or two. Not sure Cleveland would find it worth the price, though.

But the more likely deals, in my opinion, will be smaller ones where Cleveland gets a future first for getting a team like Chicago under the cap. I have written about it before, but one trade that just makes so much sense to me is a simple Josh Selby for Richard Hamilton trade that also nets Cleveland the rights to a protected Charlotte pick that the Bulls have. It would save the Bulls $8 million right away, and keep them out of repeat taxpayer status, where the fines go up. I am not sure why, but if the Bulls pay the luxury tax for the first time in history in a year where Derrick Rose barely plays or doesn't play I will lose my mind. It makes no sense.

NBA Draft

Where do you think we will end up picking? Could we possibly trade up to get Noel? - Kyrie from Downtown

I think we will be picking around 7, though it could easily be 2 or even 1. Everyone knows that trading up in basketball is infinitely harder than trading up in football. We do have an abundance of future picks we can give up should the front office really be excited about one player, but you need a partner to dance with. This seems to be a draft where, without a surefire star, teams may be more willing to look at need than they might be in other years. This could lead to some draft order movement. The short answer to both of your questions is that I don't know. Noel's injury might complicate things even more. Clevyxc asked what it would take to move from 8 to 3 in the draft, and I don't know. Accepting a bad contract, the Memphis future first, and our 8th might get it done.

What are your thoughts on Deshaun Thomas? He could fit a need for the Cavs. Also, the Cavs traded up to acquire Zeller in last year’s draft. Anyone stand out as a better prospect (and logical choice, given the team needs) that we should have targeted? - Boston Browns

I am a little more high on Thomas than I think most are. His defense has steadily improved over his time at Ohio State, and he has always been able to score. He is asked to create a lot of his own offense, which he probably wouldn't have to do in the NBA. If you are looking for someone who could hit open shots off the bench and create a little, you can do worse, I think. He isn't very athletic, and he can't play power forward, so it is hard to see him becoming even an average NBA defender, but if he plays smart and gets stronger I could see him being adequate on small forwards. If the Cavs end up with the Miami pick, and its around 28, I wouldn't be opposed to giving him a shot.

The second part of your question is kind of tough. Jeff Taylor and Andrew Nicholson were both taken after Zeller, and are probably having better seasons. Zeller has some ups and a lot of downs. I wouldn't say the Cavs made a mistake with Zeller, not by a long shot. But Taylor does look like a really solid 3 and D guy off the bench, or perhaps even a fringe starter at small forward. In short, the Zeller pick looks okay, though you could make a good case that Taylor will be pretty darn good.

Other Fun Stuff

What do you think of the coaching situation? I like Coach Scott, but some people want him out? - Sam from Alabama

I give Coach Scott a lot of credit for the most part. The last three years he has been given a pretty tough hand. The offense has made some pretty great strides over the course of the season, even with injuries and ridiculous youth. The defense has its moments but for the most part has been really terrible. It is pretty rare for young teams to be even average defensively. Mark Jackson has had his team playing at a high defensive level this season, but over the last couple weeks they seem to be coming down to earth. Basically, asking Scott to have this team performing at a higher level than they are would be unfair, in my opinion. And frankly, his relationship with Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Dion Waiters makes his seat pretty safe.

What do you think about keeping Livingston as backup point guard permanently. Give the journeyman a home. - Aj94

I like him. I think at this point we all do. He is a fun story. He plays hard, has a chip on his shoulder, and seems to be a pretty smart dude. The revelation for me has been his mid-range game. When he gets in 10-16 feet, with his ability to just shoot over defenders, it's beautiful. He has some versatility and can sort of guard a few positions, though he has no strength or quickness. If he is the Cavs backup point guard next year I think I would be pretty excited about that.

What would the going rate be for Shaun Livingston and Wayne Ellington in free agency?- a bunch of people, essentially.

Ellington has a $3 million tender that the Cavaliers would hopefully extend an offer for, which would make him a restricted free agent. I would be comfortable paying him $10 million over 3 years, and let him have that third year as a $4 million player option. He is still young, but handles himself like a veteran, defends a little, can do more off the dribble than I expected, and spots up really well. He brings some good things to the table without taking too much off of it. He is a significant upgrade over Daniel Gibson. Livingston is harder to tell. We could probably just bring him back on a one year deal, close to the minimum. He is a journeyman just trying to stay in the league still. We like him, but we shouldn't be breaking the bank for him. And I don't think we will need to.

What are your thoughts on the LeBron free agency? Is it worth it to wait on him? What happens if he spurns us again? - Cleveland_Rocks

As far as the speculation of LeBron coming back, I tried to get my feelings on the subject out in this article. If he wants to come back, fine. I don't like the idea of the Cavaliers' destiny being tied to this guy. We did that once, and it didn't work out so well. Preserving cap space for 2014 might be the smart play, but I hope it doesn't keep the Cavs from being aggressive in the meantime. I understand that the purpose of this mailbag is largely to indulge in speculation, but I can't pretend to know what Cleveland will do if they save up money for LBJ and he decides to play in Los Angeles or somewhere else. There will in all likelihood be other free agents worth spending on. 2014 is actually probably the last season we will have cap space to offer a player a max because of the raise Kyrie and other young players get on a yearly basis. In the Summer of 2015, Kyrie's max deal will in all likelihood kick in. In short, the Cavaliers have this summer and next summer to invest in a max free agent or two to pair with Kyrie Irving. After that, trades will be the only way, though the new CBA has restrictions on sign and trades for teams over the cap. Chris Grant is on the clock.

This was fun guys. Probably do something like this again before the draft.

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