On Friday, Fox Sports Ohio aired an interview with new General Manager David Griffin and Fred McLeod, the Cavaliers' television commentator, All Access Cavaliers. If you missed it, well, I'm sure it'll be on Fox Sports Ohio quite a bit moving forward. Here is part one. It was interesting stuff, both because it was a way to get to know Griffin a little better, but also because he talked a bit about specific Cavaliers and their fit.
"I have doubts that they can exist without floor spacing shooting." - Griffin on Kyrie and Dion.— FearTheSword (@FearTheSword) May 16, 2014
"(They) give us enormous advantages if we can put the right people around them." - Griffin— FearTheSword (@FearTheSword) May 16, 2014
"I think his jump shot might have distracted him somewhat from the player he is activity wise." - Griffin on Thompson— FearTheSword (@FearTheSword) May 16, 2014
"The jump shot's going to come because he puts in the work. I have no doubt of that." - Griffin on Thompson— FearTheSword (@FearTheSword) May 16, 2014
I have already written about David Griffin's vision for the Cavaliers and what I think it could mean moving forward. I want to emphasize again that we really know almost nothing. We can assume Griffin is going to want pieces that fit, that he values shooting, and that he is interested in a quicker pace. I would strongly urge caution for what it means beyond that.
I tweeted yesterday that if I had to guess, Tristan Thompson, the 9th pick in the draft (we will know on Tuesday if this is actually where it falls), Anderson Varejao and Jarrett Jack were the guys I could see being moved. But it's not based on much. We've all seen and heard and weighed and considered the arguments for whether or not Kyrie and Dion fit. The numbers when they share the court would seem to indicate it isn't a great fit, at least right now. But Griffin may discount that because of how much time they have played together with Alonzo Gee, Earl Clark, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Bynum, etc. - guys who simply are not floor spacing shooters.
So let's try and come up with some trades that make sense. It doesn't sound like Griffin is looking to rebuild, and it doesn't sound like he feels like the team needs to.
Ground rules for the trades: they either work through the ESPN trade machine, or there is some reason why I think the trade would be allowable. The machine doesn't yet take into account the cap space the Cavs are likely to have this summer which complicates things. I know the cap reasonably well. The Cavs are more likely to be the "losers" of the trade than the "winners": it's boring to just come up with trades that the Cavaliers win that would never happen. But there are times when a franchise can still take a step forward even by losing a trade.
Martell Webster is a 6'7 small forward shooting 40.7% from three point range over the last two seasons. He was a key cog of one of the better defensive teams in the league for those two years. If the Wizards retain Trevor Ariza this summer, this is a trade that would make sense for them. Behind Marcin Gortat (who they also need to retain) and Nene, there just isn't much depth. Thompson would make for an ideal third big with starting potential in case of injury. I ran this by several Wizards writers, include Mike Prada and Amin Vafa, and they all signed off on this trade immediately. Again, it probably requires Ariza re-upping in Washington. Thompson is both cheap for the Wizards and allows them to have control over his future.
For the Cavs, this provides a floor spacer who defends. Webster is 27 years old and is due to make about $17 million over the next three years. He could slide into the starting three spot immediately and give Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters a credible threat to kick it out to.
Would I do this trade? Man, this is tough. I probably would. The Cavaliers would have to make another deal to line up a power forward, because I don't believe Anthony Bennett is ready for that. Webster can play some small ball four. This is a tough one, but it's one that could help fulfill Griffin's vision.
Note: By the time Hopson is eligible to be moved (a little after the NBA draft) the Cavaliers will probably have the salary cap space to just absorb both Webster and Miller's contracts without adding Hopson's deal in.
This trade also assumes Ariza is back with the Wizards, and actually was proposed to me in part by a smart member of Wizards twitter. His original idea was Jack for Webster. They've been pretty desperate for a backup point guard. I added in Andre Miller to save the Wizards some money and make this deal a bit more fair. I obviously love this deal, and hopefully the Cavaliers would make this deal in a second. If the Cavaliers were to retain Spencer Hawes, watching Irving, Waiters, Webster, Thompson, Hawes lineups could be pretty fun.
Alright, moving away from the Wizards for a minute ...
The Houston Rockets receive Anthony Bennett
The Minnesota Timberwolves receive Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Alonzo Gee, Scotty Hopson, and the Cavaliers' 9th pick in the 2014 draft and unprotected 2016 first.
Ok, so there are a ton of ways to do this trade. Leave out Barea (which is cap relief for Minnesota) and add in Sergey Karasev. Maybe the Rockets like Bennett, maybe they don't. Instead of Bennett, the Cavs could possibly just absorb Asik into their cap space and send the Memphis pick to Houston.
Or maybe Minnesota is more interested in Dion Waiters than Tristan Thompson. Dealing Dion in this mix might make more sense for the Cavs. Thompson becomes your third big with Tyler Zeller still around as well. Re-sign C.J. Miles and all of a sudden you really have something going. The benefits of a Kevin Love and Omer Asik pairing with Kyrie Irving should be pretty obvious. And it looks like the Timberwolves are seriously considering move Love for the first time.
What's the catch? It's a lot to give up for guys who are free agents after one year. There have been persistent rumors that Love would like to go to a big market, and, barring that, to a contender. Does he believe that Cleveland will be a contender if they add him? It'd be fair for him to have doubts. Are the Cavs willing to give up a pretty large share of their future assets on a bet like this? I don't know what the answer is.
The other issue is that other teams might be able to put together better deals than Cleveland. Depending on what Minnesota thinks of Waiters or Thompson, the Lakers and Celtics could very well have top 3 picks in this year's draft to dangle in front of them. There is a tiny chance that the Cavs will jump them, but it isn't likely. The Suns could possibly put together a better package than Cleveland. Point being: don't hold your breath on Love coming to the Cavs, but don't rule it out either.
The New Orleans Pelicans receive Jarrett Jack.
The Cleveland Cavaliers receive Eric Gordon.
I float this one on twitter every couple months and everyone gets mad at me. I get it. Gordon is a malcontent with suspect knees. His production, even when healthy, hasn't lived up to his contract. He is owed $30 million over the next two seasons, the second of which is a player option. I would not consider this move if Dion Waiters is a member of the Cavaliers.
If he isn't, though, you might want to take a look at Gordon. He is still just 25 years old, shot 39% from three last season while staying pretty healthy, and could make a good pair with Kyrie Irving. He can create a bit for himself but also spot up. So let's say the Cavs move Dion for something nice, leaving a hole at shooting guard. Bringing back C.J. Miles would be my play, but I would be higher on Gordon than most.
In this deal, the Cavs get out from underneath the Jarrett Jack contract, the Pelicans get a backup point guard that can play with Jrue Holiday a little bit, and move on from Gordon.
Cleveland Cavaliers receive Carl Landry
Sacramento Kings receive the Cavs 2014 second round pick
It's hard to find easy ways to upgrade the power forward position. Landry doesn't defend, is owed $19.5 million over the next three seasons, and played 18 games last year. He is best suited to come off the bench. Prior to last season his production had been pretty darn good. He is 30 years old and a solid veteran. If the Cavs move Anthony Bennett in a larger deal and keep Thompson, Landry could be a nice but expensive backup. I don't know.
Orlando Magic receive the 9th pick in the 2014 draft
Cleveland Cavaliers receive Maurice Harkless
I have no idea what the Magic think of Harkless. I don't know what I think of him. He turned 21 last week. He shot 38% from three this season. He was under 60% from the line. He didn't get to the line often and he doesn't pass. He's learning how to play the game.
But there are signs he will be able to shoot. He is crazy athletic and should turn into a plus defender. I don't think the Cavaliers have a single small forward on the roster right now. If the Cavaliers want a backup small forward and don't love Doug McDermott or don't want to wait for James Young to maybe develop, maybe this makes sense.
Brooklyn Nets receive Anderson Varejao and the 9th pick in the 2014 draft
Cleveland Cavaliers receive Brook Lopez
Is this enough for Lopez? This saves them a bit of money and gives their fanbase a young player to feel good about moving forward. Lopez is owed about $32 million over the next two seasons, the second of which is a player option. He's played a total of 97 games over the last three seasons. In a league with few guys who can be efficient posting up, he's one of the few guys left. If Thompson's jump shot becomes a real thing, the two could be a great pair. Thompson's rebounding could cover up for Lopez's weakness there.
This is a high-risk, high-reward type move for Cleveland. I'm not sure I would give up much more than this.
Alright, going to wrap it up here. You guys can come up with your own trades in the comments if you want and discuss these ones. I understand these are largely kind of boring, but my point was kind of to show that a) big trades are pretty hard to find and b) you can find little trades that make the Cavs a bit better. I'm not sure there is a quick fix move out there.