The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired guards Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith from the New York Knicks last night as part of a three-team deal that sent Dion Waiters to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a move designed to help the Cavs win right now. Financially, the Cavs' deal doesn't affect their status as a luxury tax team (Cleveland is still roughly $3 million over the tax line), although Shumpert will hit restricted free agency this summer and Smith holds a player option for next year.
So what should we think of this deal? I try to figure that out here.
What the Cavs received
On top of Shumpert and Smith, the Cavs received a first round pick from the Thunder. It's top-18 protected this year and then top-15 protected next year. Considering that the Thunder are very good, the Cavs are probably going to get that pick before it turns into two second round picks ahead of the 2017 NBA Draft. With the pick from the Memphis Grizzlies still coming, plus the Cavs' own first round pick in the upcoming draft, Cleveland now has a decent treasure chest of first-round picks to either use in the draft or use in a trade (note: until the selection is made, the Cavs cannot trade their own first round pick). The selections aren't lottery picks, but it's the best the Cavs can get. Perhaps one turns into a big man such as Denver's Timofey Mozgov.
In Smith and Shumpert, it's a bit of wait and see. Shumpert, who is currently out with a shoulder injury, figures to immediately start at shooting guard. His defensive abilities mean, in theory, that he instantly becomes Cleveland's best wing defender, but we'll have to see his his reputation lives up his actual ability. Offensively, David Blatt will have to see how Shumpert fits in and if teams even somewhat respect him as a shooter.
As for Smith, he should replace Waiters off the bench as a creator and shooter. Again, in theory, Smith should be a better 3-point shooter than Waiters and is a better fit. His shooting numbers, however, are down from when he won NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2012-13 and it's hard to gauge what exactly Smith is at this point. Perhaps playing for a winning team again returns him to some semblance of his 2012-13 form.
What the Cavs gave up
Waiters' departure was the headline of the deal and rightfully so. Waiters was a top-five pick for the Cavs and was seen as a building block next to Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. But Waiters never really perfectly meshed with Irving on or off the court and didn't really work with the new-look Cavaliers this season. His shooting went down across the board and despite a few big games, he was often underwhelming offensively. Defensively, despite having some of the physical tools to be a plus defender, Waiters never really figured it out in Cleveland.
The talent was there, however, and Waiters was the only creator on the bench. His never defined role will need to be replaced, likely by Smith. Losing Alex Kirk and Lou Amundson really is a non-factor for the Cavs. If they were good enough to play and fix Cleveland's big man woes, they would have played more than sparing minutes. Everything considered, the Cavs didn't give up much for the assets received.
Again, the tricky part of this deal will be the finances. This might be a short-term band-aid, but that's to be determined. And it's not as if the Cavs were that financially flexible anyway.
The Final Verdict
On paper, this deal makes a lot of sense for the Cavs. Shumpert won't 100 percent fix the Cavs' noted defensive woes - he's good, but not that good - and we'll have to see how Smith fits. We'll also have to see how the rotation is affected. It seems possible that Mike Miller loses his spot, but maybe both Miller and Matthew Dellavedova see minute reductions. For now, as we haven't even seen the Cavs play a game yet, the Cavs get a B for this deal.
And maybe we get to see this in a Cavs uniform.