The Cleveland Cavaliers made some trades this week. Perhaps you heard about them. Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Timofey Mozgov are all now members of the team. Dion Waiters is gone, off to Oklahoma City. Unsurprisingly, people who write on the internet had opinions about this. We have put many of those opinions here in one place.
Grantland's Zach Lowe thinks that Shumpert will clearly be an upgrade on defense over Waiters:
Waiters occasionally tried on defense, but he has been mostly awful - slow, unwilling, unintuitive. Shumpert isn't a blowaway defender, and he's a (slightly) below-average 3-point shooter for his career. But he's long-armed and tenacious, he can guard multiple positions, and he should grade out as quite good on that end if he can just avoid his bad tendencies - gambling for steals and losing focus off the ball as his man cuts backdoor.
But Grantland's Andrew Sharp poured some cold water on the moves:
Iman Shumpert might be the most overrated player in the NBA. He has parlayed two good months with the Knicks, as a rookie, into a career-long reputation as a great 3-and-D role player, and it's almost never borne out in reality. Timofey Mozgov is competent, but if the solution to your season is adding Timofey Mozgov, you've probably already lost. J.R. Smith will surprise people in Cleveland, but for a team that's had ball movement and chemistry issues since game one, adding J.R. Smith isn't guaranteed to be a good thing.
SI's Ben Golliver gave the Cavs a B+ for the Waiters-Shumpert-Smith trade:
This deal was a no-brainer for the Cavaliers. Waiters was harming Cleveland's offense when he was on the floor (the Cavs' offensive rating dropped from 109.4 when Waiters sat to 101 when he was on the court). Despite his reputation as a pure scorer, Waiters' defensive woes were overshadowing his offensive skill set.
Sean Highkin thinks that the deal can only be judged based on how Smith performs:
For the Cavs, this deal hinges on Smith. Shumpert is a terrific get, instantly becoming the best perimeter defender on the team (since LeBron James has taken several steps back on that end over the last couple years). But if James and David Blatt couldn't stand Waiters, they basically brought in an older, more set-in-his-ways version of the same player in Smith. For all his faults, Waiters is at least only 23 and, theoretically, can be molded into a more team-oriented player. The 29-year-old Smith is what he is as a player and a personality.
Kevin Pelton (ESPN insider required) gave the Cavs a B+ for the Mozgov trade:
Mozgov isn't an elite rim protector, but he's solidly above average in this regard. This season, opponents were shooting 48.6 percent within 5 feet of the basket with Mozgov as the closest defender, per SportVU tracking available on NBA.com/Stats. Last season, Mozgov rated even better at 47.1 percent, ahead of other possible Cavaliers targets like Kosta Koufos (47.6 percent) and Samuel Dalembert (52.0 percent). (Koufos has the edge this season, at 44.9 percent.)
Brian Windhorst chronicled all of the moves that led up to the acquisition of Mozgov:
The Cavs' front office, led by general manager David Griffin, has been aggressive in creating assets and spending money to build a team around LeBron James. The trail of maneuvers and contractual timing that enabled the Mozgov move was costly but quite creative.
ESPN's Dave McMenamin on David Griffin's aggressiveness:
And this week, he finally jumped in and hopped like hell and didn't trip and fall on his face. Nearly halfway through the season, a season that was supposed to be a celebration and quickly devolved into a daily struggle, Griffin simply knew it was time to go for it and live with the consequences.
Mozgov was a team favorite, beloved by his teammates for his work ethic, sense of humor, and love of the game of basketball. Mozgov showed up early, gave 100 percent during practice, and would stay after to work on his shot. He was committed to improving his game, to be physically fit, and to be mentally able to perform at his best. He wasn't the best center in the league - heck, he wasn't the best in the division - but every day he got a little better.
One scout told SI's Chris Mannix that getting Mozgov was necessary:
They weren't getting out of the second round without him. He's probably being overrated about all the things he will bring to them, but he fills an obvious need with [Anderson] Varejao gone. He's an average defender but he is a decent rim protector who will rebound and block a few shots. He's a presence. David Blatt knows him, so he should be able to work himself into the mix quickly.
USA Today's Sam Amick wrote that the team remains optimistic:
For all the chatter about the Cavs' demise and this notion that they have no shot at winning the title that so many oddsmakers claimed was theirs to lose going into the season, the reality is that all this recent skepticism has only fueled this proud group. From James on down, there is a sense that the critics are doing nothing but fueling their fire while sparking the eventual resurgence that remains possible because of the considerable talent that is on board.