Much like kids on Christmas, trade speculation has taken over SBNation NBA blogs today. This is an exciting topic, because really, who doesn't love trade speculation? The Cavs are a team stuck in the middle. Are they a playoff team? Are they a lottery team? Do they need a shooting guard? Is there a small forward on the roster? Is it bad that Tyler Zeller has had 4 different injuries in 3 months while backing up the two most notoriously injured centers in the league? The Cavs have draft picks and young players, should they move them? Today Justin and I are gonna look at both sides of the coin, not necessarily an argument of right or wrong,but different views on the subject.
Are the Cleveland Cavaliers Buyers or Sellers?
Considering everything above, this is a tough question, but I think they are sellers. Not in the general sense of todays NBA, selling off all of their veteran talent to get a higher draft picks, but in that they have short term assets that are move valuable to a championship contending team than they are to the Cavs. Obviously, for the right deal they could certainly be buyers as well. The Cavs are uniquely positioned in both roster and GM. They could be a lotto team. They could be the third seed in the East(not that it's much of an achievement these days). They could swing a huge trade. They could swing a small one. They could stand pat and see what happens. With this unique mix of young and old unpredictable talent, and Chris Grant, literally any option is on the table.
If a seller, what are the objectives in potential moves?
The goal, as always, is to acquire more long term assets, whether they be younger players or draft selections. The Cavaliers, for better or worse, are locked into having a maximum contract slot open this offseason, with at least one prominent name in mind. Having the lure of an established star in Kyrie, and a young talented roster is their hope to land a star. However, this doesn't mean that is their only option. Spending draft night with a mountain of tradeable assets and cap space isn't the worst place to be.
At which position do you have a surplus?
Keeping with their nature, the Cavs have a surplus everywhere, and nowhere. (well, except small forward) They have 3 ball handling guards, two starting caliber centers, a third center that would be a quality backup on a lot of teams, and three swingmen with expiring contracts.
What players are available?
Anderson Varejao, CJ Miles, Earl Clark, and Alonzo Gee. (There is rampant speculation about several other Cavaliers, but remember, we're selling on Vets here)
The gem of this bunch, obviously is Varejao. He is also the hardest to peg a value on. His contract and health all but assure that he will not be with the Cavaliers next season, but he's an incredibly fun and exciting player to watch, making him a fan favorite. The real dilemma is what value opposing GM's will place on him. When healthy, he can be the starting big man or even better the first off the bench for a Finals contender, having excelled in the latter role for the Cavaliers finals team of 07. He has a friendly contract, $9 million this year, with only $4 Million guaranteed for next season. The problem, of course, is that Varejao is rarely healthy. In the last three years he has had three different season ending injuries, playing in only 31, 25, and 25 games. In 2010 he had issues with his back and ankle. For his career, Varejao has played more than 54 games just three times in 9 seasons. His style of play, which is what makes him so endearing, is also what leads to a lot of his problems. With a small cap number, the stated goal of acquiring a superstar, advancing age, and declining health, the writing is on the wall for Varejao not being on this team next season.
CJ Miles is also an interesting case. A streaky scorer and decent defender, he could be a quality role player on the wing for a contender. The issue is just how streaky he is. Miles had a wonderful start to the season, but since then a calf injury and his usual bouts of cold shooting have left him shooting a paltry 32% from the field and 29% from three in his last ten starts. On their face, those numbers seem like they would scare most teams away, however Miles has an expiring contract that would carry Bird Rights, and that tantalizing ability to explode in a series and put a team over the top.
Gee and Clark are specialists with small team options for next year. Gee is a strong defender that needs to be hidden in a good offensive system that will leave him with open cuts to the rim and even more open looks from deep. He's a decent three point shooter, but his incredibly long, sidewinding shot release reduces his effectiveness as a floor spacer because it gives his defender ample time to recover to him. Clark is a solid defender at the three or stretch four, and is hitting threes at a scorching 45% so far. I like him as a Cavalier going forward, just because of his unique size/skill/shooting combination, but that same combo could make an elite team even better.
What are your specific trade ideas?
1.) The Cleveland Cavaliers trade Anderson Varejao, Earl Clark, and C.J. Miles to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, and Dallas' First round pick. (Clark would actually have to be in a separate deal, which would be OKC taking him into the Kevin Martin trade exception).
This trade comes down to what the Thunder feel their window is. They have a young core of really talented players, and could be of the mindset that they'll inevitably get back there at some point. For this scenario to happen, they would need to be wanting to strike while the iron is hot. The benefit to the Thunder is immense. Varejao is far better than Perkins in all facets of the game at this point, and his energy and passing would be devastating paired with Ibaka, Durant, and Westbrook. Clark, as a solid defender, passer, and elite three point shooter in a lineup with Durant and Ibaka would also pose quite a challenge. Miles, of course thrives off of open looks and would get plenty of them with so much talent on the floor. The three incoming Cavaliers would give OKC a ton of matchup options, and one of the best small ball lineups in basketball.
For the Cavs, it's about the two young players with potential, and that draft pick. Stockpiling assets at the expense of expiring assets seems like a no brainer to me, and I think the Cavs ultimate destination (33-43 wins)is still in sight with the Cavs core intact. Lamb has a skillset that meshes will with the Cavs other three guards, and Jones could be an actual real NBA small forward. Otherwise, you have 7 first round draft picks on their rookie deals (8 counting Irving), and four first rounders (2014 CLE, 2014 SAC protected top 11, 2015 MEM protected 1-5, 15-30, 2014 DAL protected Top 20 until 2018, then unprotected) with which to chase another star.
2.) The Cleveland Cavaliers trade Anderson Varejao and a second round pick to the Denver Nuggets for Jordan Hamilton and the more favorable of their 2014 first or NYK 2014 first. (Varejao to DEN in Andre Iguodala trade exception, Hamilton and the pick to the Cavs for a second round pick.)
Denver has a young core that is making a strong push. They will be getting Danilo Gallinari back, and Varejao could be a piece that gets them far in the West. This all hinges on either how bad they think New York will be, or how good they think Varejao is. Once Tyson Chandler is back, I think the Knicks will return to their 6th to 10th standing in the East, so it makes sense for Denver to go for it. For Cleveland, the same story. A real small forward/young asset, and that delicious first round pick.
3.) The Cleveland Cavaliers trade Anderson Varejao to the Denver Nuggets for Wilson Chandler and Jordan Hamilton.
This is kind of an in between move for both teams. Is Gallo healthy? Is Fournier able to hold it down? Would be Denvers concerns. The Cavs trade an expiring asset for a known quality small forward and a young player with potential.
4.) The Cleveland Cavaliers trade CJ Miles to the Atlanta Hawks for John Jenkins and Brooklyn's 2014 or 2015 First round pick.
The Hawks have as good a chance as anybody, and start Demarre Carrol at the 3. Jenkins has shown the ability to be a three point specialist, but is struggling in limited time this year. This would boil down to how bad Chris Grant's former mentor Danny Ferry thinks the Nets will be, but a first round pick for CJ Miles would be nice (if admittedly aiming high).
5.) The Cleveland Cavaliers trade Anderson Varejao, CJ Miles, and Earl Clark to the Charlotte Bobcats for Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Ben Gordon, and either Portland or Detroit's 2014 first round pick.
Reports came out, almost inexplicably, that the Bobcats are willing to shop Michael Kidd Gilchrist to "win now". I don't know if this deal gives them enough long term potential, but I'm willing to try. On their end, it allows them to minimize the role of Cody Zeller, who has yet to be a competent offensive or defensive NBA player, as well as get Ben Gordon out of the building. It also provides them with a whole lot more shooting.
For the Cavs, the former second overall pick MKG is hard to pass up. His defensive potential is limitless, his motor is great, and the only thing that makes him a moveable asset for the Bobcats is that his jumper needs completely torn down and built from scratch. Mike Brown (with the help of Chris Jent) has encountered similar problems with LeBron James, and this season Tristan Thompson. Getting a first round pick in this deal would seem impossible, but it doesn't hurt to set the asking price high and hope that the Bobcats take care of the rest.
The Cavs are a hard team to peg, and I certainly wouldn't fault them for trying to be as good as possible this year, but with a stacked draft and so much of their roster still in development, I think it would be best to move these expiring veterans to someone who would get a whole lot more use out of them. Especially Andy, because seeing him hoist a trophy would be sweet (as long as it's not with the Heat).