The Cleveland Cavaliers were able to offload Brendan Haywood's deal to create a $10.5 million trade exception, but who could they look to use it on? Also, as Ryan Mourton noted in Wednesday's piece, Cleveland doesn't have much to offer:
The short answer is "Not much." The long answer is a 2018 first (their 2016 pick was traded, cannot trade 2017 due to the Stepien Rule), a 2020 first (or 2019 and 2021, I guess), and a 2019 second round pick which will the worst of either the Lakers or Timberwolves picks that year. They also own a 31-55 protected pick in the 2016 and 2017 drafts, meaning it has to fall from 56-60. The 2017 is from the Kings, so scratch that, but the Clippers could potentially convey the one they owe this year. Mostly those picks are just paper currency, fulfilling the need to send something in a trade. If/when the team uses their trade exceptions on a salary dump, those two picks likely go with them.
With the qualifiers of $10.5 million to absorb and not much to attach to it, there are a few intriguing options that the Cavaliers could pursue that they just might be able to pry away.
Marvin Williams, F, Charlotte Hornets
Contract: One year remaining, $7 million
Why He'd Fit: Williams would allow the Cavaliers a little positional versatility at the backup three and four, a role the team lacks outside of LeBron James, who prefers the three, and Richard Jefferson. He's not a particularly high ceiling player, but has at least turned into a passable three point shooter. He hit 35.5% of his spot-up threes in 2014-15, and if you leave him wide open (6+ feet or more,) he'll knock it down, hitting 39.4% of such three-point attempts.
Why the Cavs Should Stay Away: If you're looking for a shot creator, cover your eyes. Williams did almost nothing off-the-dribble in 2014-15, with 79.3 percent of his shots coming after zero dribbles, and another 10.8 percent coming after just one dribble. You can't expect much from Williams in the passing game, and he's never going to be a beast on the boards like other Cavaliers bigs, though his production there has increased since moving to a small-ball four role.
Why the Hornets Would Sell: There's a few factors here. First off, with the drafting of Frank Kaminsky, the trade for Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's presence , there's a glut of players at the three and four that need minutes, Williams is definitely overpaid at $7 million per year and there's a chance that the Hornets could struggle again next season. If the Hornets can't find minutes for him and also aren't winning much, there appears to be little incentive to hold onto him.
Could/Should the Cavaliers Do the Deal? If the Hornets season tanks, I'd think the Cavaliers could make this work. They can absorb Williams' contract using the Haywood exception and save Michael Jordan' cash for a player he doesn't really need. I don't think Williams is a particularly useful player despite having a few skills the Cavaliers could use, so I'd pass unless they really felt as though this were there best option.
Jarrett Jack, G, Brooklyn Nets
Contract: Two years remaining, $6.3 million per year
Why He'd Fit: I'm sorry, that was mean.
Jeff Green, F, Memphis Grizzlies
Contract: One year remaining, $9.2 million
Why He'd Fit: Potential is a funny thing. He'd provide the same positional flexibility as Marvin Williams while providing more upside. His stock is low, but he wouldn't be asked to do much more than spot up for wide open jumpers, attack defenses as a secondary ball handler and ideally allow the Cavs to get out and run with long, athletic lineups. He's capable of offensive explosions, having gone toe-to-toe in playoff games against LeBron in the past. Plus, Bill Simmons would transfer his misplaced belief in Green to the Cavs, and everyone likes to be mentioned on premium cable, right?
Why the Cavs Should Stay Away: Green had a miserable half-season in Memphis, losing his starting job in the process while absolutely killing the Grizzlies during their playoff run. He averaged 8.9 points and shot 22.2% from distance and 33.3% from the field overall during 11 games. He's never particularly graded out well by the metrics, and he has a tendency to fade out of games. Basically, you can't count on him to perform on a night to night basis. Would the Cavs need him to?
Why the Grizzlies Would Sell: Cost-cutting doesn't seem to be an absolute necessity for the Grizz, as they sit around $4 million underneath the luxury tax. That said, they're close, and if they want to make a move that would put them over the threshold, the Cavaliers could take Green off their hands. On the court, they traded for Matt Barnes on the cheap this offseason, and if they don't feel like shoehorning minutes for Green, they could just let him go and save the $9 million while increasing their under-the-tax payout at the end of the season.
Could/Should the Cavaliers Do the Deal? If circumstances played out correctly, I think the Cavaliers would eventually get a plus piece here. Analytics people across the world are probably screaming, but the Cavaliers will likely be taking back flawed pieces without much to attach to the trade exception. I'd probably be able to talk myself into the flawed piece that can sling together dominant games and bank on the coaching staff to harness his athleticism for good.
Josh McRoberts, PF, Miami Heat
Contract: Three years remaining, $5.5 million, $5.8 million and $6 million due in each respective year.
Why He'd Fit: His shooting and passing would thrive among the chaos that iso-ballers in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving create. Already bent defenses would break after a nifty pass to a cutter on the weak side or a wide-open three. He's not a great rebounder or defender, but you'd hope the Cavaliers could find their way around that to make use of his unique big man skill set. Very few players that size can dish 4.3 assists per game, especially in the spacing hell that was that Hornets team.
(Full Disclaimer: I watched a lot of Bobcats games during his last season in Charlotte, and fell in love a bit.)
Why the Cavs Should Stay Away: He's coming off an injury that robbed him of most of the 2014-15 season, and we'll need to see how that knee will hold up. He only snagged 4.8 rebounds per game in 2013-14 in 30.8 minutes per game while also allowing opponents to shoot 54.2% at the rim. In a lot of ways, he's something of a poor man's Kevin Love. If you're looking for a fourth big that does something the rest of the current bigs on the roster don't, he will likely disappoint.
Why the Heat Would Sell: They probably wouldn't, honestly. I don't think Pat Riley wants to do Cleveland any favors, since my image of Pat Riley is that of a vindictive mob boss. However, if Micky Arison is trying to cut payroll to save some cash in anticipation of dropping big money on a looming extension for Hassan Whiteside, this could be the place to do it.
Could/Should the Cavaliers Do the Deal? I think it's an easy "yes" to doing the deal if the Heat were to offer, but I can't help but think Pat Riley would rather burn the money, Joker-style. I'm going to have to keep dreaming on this one, I think.
O.J. Mayo, G, Milwaukee Bucks
Contract: One year remaining, $8 million
Why He'd Fit: He's a gunner, and when he's on, a pretty good gunner. His best season offensively was in Dallas, a system where he had plenty of passing and spacing to play around with. He averaged 15.3 points per game, shooting 44.9% from the field and 40.7% from three while dishing 4.5 dimes per game, showing his best playmaking skills. He does his best work as a secondary attacker, as his eFG% plummets when asked to assume larger ball-handling responsibilities, but that should be okay on this Cavaliers team.
Why the Cavs Should Stay Away: He's had issues with motivation, weight, and general attitude. He's never had a PER above league average, and turns the ball 2.1 times per game for his career despite not being much of a passer. He also replicates what the Cavs already have on the roster. They don't really need help at the backup point guard, and J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert have the shooting guard position locked down. J.R. takes care of the gunner role, so I'm not sure what Mayo would do for the Cavaliers.
Why the Bucks Would Sell: The Bucks have been the captains of cost-cutting this offseason, and got most of their work done in trading Ersan Ilyasova and Jared Dudley for practically nothing. They are well south of the luxury tax, but about $2 million north of the salary cap. If Mayo isn't playing in a suddenly crowded rotation featuring Michael Carter-Williams, Greivis Vasquez, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Tyler Ennis, they could decide to move on.
Could/Should the Cavaliers Do the Deal? I would file this one away as unlikely. I don't think the need is there on either side, as the Cavaliers don't really have room in the rotation for the position Mayo plays, and the Bucks are really only incentivized to give Mayo away if they'd rather allocate minutes and dollars elsewhere. This would not be a situation in which they need to cut payroll, so the Cavaliers would have to get lucky just to acquire a player I'm not sure they even need.
Channing Frye, F/C, Orlando Magic
Contract: Three years remaining, $8.2M, 7.8M, $7.4M in each respective year.
Why He'd Fit: Frye was part of one of the best two-man games in basketball during the 2013-14 season, running the pick-and-pop with Goran Dragic, absolutely shredding defenses that overcommitted to help on Dragic's drives to the rim as well as leveraging his gravitational pull to allow Dragic into the teeth of the defense. Frye has a high and quick release point, and at 6'11, has the length to play decent defense at the center position. Everyone agrees that he had a rough 2014-15 season, but the dude still shot 39.3% from distance last year.
Why the Cavs Should Stay Away: His play in conjunction with Dragic earned him a long, four-year contract starting above $8 million per year from the Orlando Magic to help add space their mostly non-shooting roster, but the fit wasn't ideal. He only shot 39% on two-point field goal attempts, which, even for a shooting big, is pretty miserable. He's also already 32 years old with three more seasons on his contract, so the Cavaliers had better get production sooner rather than later.
Why the Magic Would Sell: They overpaid for Frye at the time, and they've got a glut of young talent. Nikola Vucevic is entrenched at the center spot, and Aaron Gordon and Tobias Harris both will eat minutes at the four spot, though Kyle O'Quinn's departure does free up some minutes. Frye is probably useful to them this season, but if they struggle yet again, they could decide to sell.
Could/Should the Cavaliers Do the Deal? This is my favorite among the list. If there's any magic left, Frye should be able to recapture it with Kyrie Irving, a player, who like Dragic can get into the teeth of the defense and fire away off the dribble if he is given too much space. Frye's length should allow him to survive defensively, and the Cavaliers are potent enough on the boards that they wouldn't need too much out of him at this spot. The Cavaliers can probably only pick up Frye if the Magic really want to give him away, but man, I'd be a happy camper if they did.
Markieff Morris, PF, Phoenix Suns
Contract: Four years remaining, $8 million, $7.4 million, $8 million, $8.6 million due in each respective year
Why He'd Fit: He's the worst shooter of the stretch-four candidates, but probably the best player. He's young, is locked into an affordable deal that averages $8 million over four years, a steal in the new NBA cap climate. He averaged a career-high 15.3 points per game, and while he took a step back in field goal percentage, you can expect that number to rise as he'd have to phase out the post-up fadeaways from midrange that he used a steady diet of in 2014-15. He's a passable shooter from three, and ideally could at least force a strong closeout.
Why the Cavs Should Stay Away: Well, he might be a little unstable. He's facing pending assault charges, seems to be overly dependent on playing with his brother, which most professional basketball players don't get to do, and he also is notorious for barking at the referees. It's fair to wonder whether he'd be okay with playing somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 minutes per game as the Cavaliers fourth big. He's also not quite the shooter you'd hope he'd be at the position, and could stand to rebound a little better.
Why the Suns Would Sell: Well, because he asked them to. Morris demanded a trade due to frustration with the Suns shipping out his brother after he took a discount. The Suns would probably rather work this out, as they have a productive young player on a really good deal, but the assault charges plus the trade request might be more of a headache than its worth.
Could/Should the Cavaliers Do the Deal? The staff at Fear the Sword has tackled this question both here and here, so I'll try to be brief. The Cavaliers avenues for adding high-end talent are pretty limited, so if they have the chance to add someone, I think it is worthwhile. I'm a big believer in the corrective power of LeBron James, and I'm skeptical of how much damage a player could really do while a player like LBJ hold the reigns. I think if the Suns are just trying to dump Morris, its worthwhile, but I wouldn't attach anything of value in the deal. Basically, I don't think they'll be able to snag him with that package.
It's August, so there is plenty of room for things to change, teams to collapse and players to ask out until the trade deadline. There's a good chance that by the time the Cavaliers use the exception, the entire landscape could change. That said, the Cavaliers have one of their last chances to add top-level talent in the LeBron James era, and if the opportunity arises, I believe it's well worth the risk to give it a go.