I love the trade deadline, and the anticipation might be 1000x better. It’s like Christmas for NBA fans. It’s the one time of the year I can rationalize the 45 minutes per day I spend on the NBA trade machine.
This deadline should be crazy… but I say this to myself every year, and make myself susceptible to extreme disappointment.
I still like to blind myself to that impending disappointment by building up the deadline in my mind– doing a trade for each team in the league each day, and admiring the work I did to get them closer to reaching their goal.
This deadline should be especially crazy because every has established themselves as full-fledged buyers or sellers. There is the race for the championship, and there is the race for a top-7 pick.
Interestingly enough, nobody knows which way the Cleveland Cavaliers are leaning. They were buyers a month ago, then looked like the worst team in the league, then they salvaged it by going 4-0 heading into the All-Star break.
Interim general manager, David Griffin, didn’t make their direction any more clear. He basically said he doesn’t believe in getting better by “selling,” and the only way to get better is by “buying.” He went on to say they will be “buying” assets that will make them better for now and in the long-run– which is a characteristically vague statement coming from the Cavs’ reticent front office.
Hopefully this 4-game winning-streak against sub-par teams doesn’t effect the decisions made at the most important trade deadline in the post-LeBron era.
Luol Deng doesn’t look like he would want to re-sign after this season; Anderson Varejao needs to be traded if they want ample cap space this summer.
I don’t know what Griffin will do, but because I want to play general manager, the rest of this is piece is dedicated to what I think he should do.
YOU MUST TRADE THESE GUYS– THREAT-LEVEL: RED
You can trade these guys now and get assets, or you can keep them for your delusional playoff run and watch it bite you in the ass forever.
Deng’s contract runs up at the end of this season, so when the Cavs got him, they had about a month and some change to convince him to stay in Cleveland past this season.
There has not been a sloppier, uglier, more dysfunctional organization over the past month than the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There have been rumors circulating that suggest he’s likely not re-signing. And who would? If anything, the Cavs have convinced Deng not to re-sign into this volatile, hostile mess.
The Cavs have recently turned it around– coming off of 4-straight wins, so the idea behind keeping Deng past the deadline would be to win with him, hoping the success he experiences in the second-half convinces him to stay. I don’t need to explain why it’s stupid to risk losing for Deng on the off chance this team makes the playoffs and plays well enough to change his opinion. Deng has played on 60-win teams. If Griffin and Gilbert think mediocrity in a terrible conference is supposed to keep him, they are delusional (Gilbert is probably delusional).
The Deng acquisition got everyone excited, and it looked like the playoffs were all but guaranteed. Sadly, like every acquisition of the past nine months, this one is turning out as terribly as it possibly could have.
Deng is struggling with this defense that requires a lot of activity, hasn’t found consistency with his shot, disappears in games, hasn’t gelled with Kyrie and/or Dion Waiters, and has certainly not been an open-court player. He generally looks a step slower than where you would like him to be.
If Deng loses another step or half-step in addition to the product he’s displayed since coming to Cleveland, it’s hard to make the argument he’s worth +$10M per year for multiple years for this team, at least.
I don’t think he’s worth the $11-14M over 3-4 years he would demand to return to Cleveland. If the chances are low he stays, and if he’s staying it’ll be for too much money, it’s best you get what you can for him now.
The God Varejao.
I am writing this hoping it gets to the front office and resonates with them primarily so I can buy his jersey for a discounted price on the Cavs team store after his departure.
The other, less cynical, reasons to trade him:
1. You may or may not know about Varejao’s injury history. If you do, you realize just how miraculous this season has been for him.
Over the last three-and-a-half seasons, Varejao has been at the very least a playoff-caliber third big, when healthy.
Each of the past three seasons, the Cavs have gambled big on Varejao staying healthy leading up to the trade deadline so they can see what the highest bidder has to offer, and they have lost each time. There was a rumor circulating a couple seasons ago (maybe last season) the Clippers were offering Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan for him. A week later, he was out for the season.
There have been some injury scares this season. Every time he hits the floor, winces after contact, or sits out a game, if you listen closely, you can hear the sound of the Cavs’ front office’s regret pinballing through their thoughts.
This year, Varejao has managed to stay healthy. The Cavs can finalize a trade without apprehension– confident it is the best trade available. There is no telling if he stays healthy for the rest of this season, and the odds are against him. This might be their last, and it’s definitely their best opportunity to trade him for good value.
2. Other than Varejao being an injury-waiting-to-happen as a starting center, they need to trade him because his contract coming off the books is essential to the Cavs freeing up as much cap space as possible for this summer.
His contract next season is +$9M, but it’s partially guaranteed for $4M; cutting him relieves the Cavs of $5M, so trading him is the only way to clear his entire salary.
He’s a good player, but if the plan is to have as much salary cap space this summer as possible, he has to go.
3. Varejao is extremely talented, has played at an all-star level for several large chunks of time since LeBron’s departure, but he’s not the center of this team’s future.
Varejao is going to be 32 at the start of next season, with a decorated injury history.
He has never been able to protect the rim, and he often faces a huge size disadvantage. The Tristan Thompson-Varejao big man pairing is the worst of any starting big combo at the rim on both sides of the floor. This team needs a young(er), strong, rim-protector worse than any team in the league.
It’s this simple: Varejao is declining on the youngest team in the league is improving. Keeping him around will not end well.
These two also happen to be their most attractive trade pieces.
YOU ARE A CLEVELAND CAVALIERS DEITY IF YOU DUMP HIM
I can’t believe he is this bad.
The foursome of C.J. Miles-Kyrie-Dion Waiters-Matthew Dellavedova might be the one part of the team that doesn’t need to be tinkered going into next season.
Jack doesn’t pass, he only shoots bad shots, and he’s the worst perimeter defender on the team.
The team is better when he’s not on the floor, and there is nothing remotely fun about the way he plays basketball. The most fun part about him is making up nicknames about how bad he is. Two of my favorites: “Jerrant Jack” and “Jacking Jumpers”.
If you can get out of his contract, which is not Gerald Wallace bad per se, but definitely bad, without giving up picks, you are a deity.
This would free up cap space, make us better immediately, and remove an eyesore. Griffin for GM of the future if he gets Jack off the books. Executive of the year.
These guys aren’t going anywhere.
KYRIE IRVING, DION WAITERS, MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA
THE CAVS ARE NOT TRADING KYRIE IRVING.
Okay, now that we’ve settled that…
Waiters should not be traded because he’s extremely talented, people are low-balling for him, and he has “this trade will bite you in the ass” written all over him.
Dellavedova is not “untouchable,” but the chemistry he’s built with Waiters and Miles has been arguably the best thing that’s happened this season. But it’s ethereal. He’s not going to be valued as more than a throw-in from the perspective of other teams because his value is very specific to this team; Dellavedova won’t demand playing time, he plays within himself, he’s young, his contract is fantastic, and his set-shooting, defense, and passive style is a great fit– he’s the quintessential 4th guard on a team with Kyrie and Waiters. More than anything, this is a plea to not touch the guard rotation, and less to protect Delly Trey. (Plus, if these guys stick around, you can say stuff like “Kyrie Sirving to Waiters, who sets up the Delly Trey!” and you can’t put a price on that.)
YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU MIGHT GET
There will be plenty of opportunities to trade him, and he has trade value, but there is no reason not to see what he can net you.
I’ll start off by saying this: Thompson shares LeBron’s agent, so he won’t get traded.
I would dangle him around the league to see who bites.
I don’t hold a guy who struggles defending strong players at his position, can’t protect the rim, can’t shoot, and can’t finish in very high regard. I’ve highlighted the reasons I feel he’s a bad fit for the Cavs numerous times.
Thompson still has a developing game, and is definitely a great rebounder; this season he ranks 3rd in the East in double-doubles.
His health is a very underrated intangible. There is a disappointingly low number of players who you can rely on to suit up and play with energy every game, and Thompson is one of them.
Thompson will be a weird player to gauge extension money for, and there is a strong chance a money discrepancy leads the Cavs to trade him at the next deadline.
Exploring what’s available for him is smart because he seems like one of the few players on the Cavs who doesn’t have a stigma attached to his name.
The most important thing to remember is there should be no pressure to trade him now. There is always the draft, right before next season, and next season’s trade deadline. Or they re-sign him.
However, if a team is offering a first-round pick in the teens… farewell!
OBVIOUSLY NOT UNTOUCHABLE, BUT NO…
Teams will low-ball for these guys.
TYLER ZELLER, ANTHONY BENNETT, SERGEY KARASEV
Zeller has a 13.7 PER, is steadily improving, and once he adds more muscle, he has all the makings of a legitimate rotation piece. Big men develop slowly, and he’s in his second season.
Bennett was the number one overall pick for a reason, even if detractors want you to believe otherwise. A player with that much skill can’t possibly play worse than he has over the first few months. Recently he’s turned it on, so for the time being, it’s best to wait-and-see.
The Lakers tried to swoop up Karasev in a potential Pau Gasol deal, reportedly. He turned 20 a few days before the season, and he’s trying to adjust to a completely new culture. Giving away a 20-year old who has the one skill that translates to every level– shooting– is not a smart move.
MAYBE, LET ME GET BACK TO YOU…
There is no doubt he can get you an asset, but do you want to trade him?
Miles is incredibly underrated. Playing him less than 20 minutes per game is the biggest calamity of the Cavs’ season. I KNOW I SAY THIS FIVE TIMES PER DAY, BUT PLAYING HIM SIX MINUTES LESS PER GAME THAN JARRETT JACK IS UTTERLY ASININE.
Miles has been the best, most consistent two-way perimeter player on this team. Period. If he played the 25-35 minutes on any given night like he should, Miles wouldn’t require a defense from me.
Quick Miles stats:
- His per 36 numbers: 18.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.9 apg, and 1.7 spg, per basketball-reference.com
- He has a 57% TS%, per basketball-reference.com.
- His PER of 16.54 ranks 11th of 66 qualified shooting guards, per ESPN.com
- He is the only player with a positive net rating on the team– 2.3, per NBA.com.
- He turns 27 in March.
But the most important statistic of them all *drum roll*… He’s getting paid $2.25M this season! He’s the best wing bargain in basketball right now.
He also holds himself accountable, and stays positive. The guys on the team like him! Miles carries himself like a winning player.
When people list shooting guard as a need for the Cavs, it absolutely baffles me. I hear so much about Arron Afflalo, Gary Harris, etc… Miles’ PER is less than 1 point lower than Afflalo’s. Grant found a diamond in the rough, and it’s safe to believe teams are very aware of any player who can shoot and play on the other side of the floor.
Miles has the highest PER of any shooting guard, besides Dwyane Wade, potentially entering free agency this season. He’s not as replaceable as his contract would suggest.
If the Cavs can sign Miles for less than $6M per year for 2-4 years, that would be a steal. I would gauge his interest in re-signing, and if he’s interested, I would not trade him; on the flip-side, if he’s intending on testing the waters, he should be traded because he would yield a great return.
These guys are around to match salaries in trades, and are likely going to be forgettable NBA players.
Alonzo Gee, Henry Sims, Earl Clark
That’s $8.288M in expirings. If you include the tiny non-expiring contract of Carrick Felix, it bumps up to 8.79M.
The Cavs should tank.
Since trading Varejao and Deng– two of their starters– are both logical moves, it’s only logical for the Cavs to be sellers at the deadline. WE WANT ANDREW WIGGINS! Not only will stripping down this roster net assets, allow young guys like Karasev, Felix, and Bennett to play nice, consistent minutes, but each loss gets the Cavs closer to Wiggins! He is good at basketball!
A BUNCH OF FAKE TRADES
Cavaliers Receive: Ben Gordon, Detroit’s 2014 first-round pick/Portland’s 2014 first-round pick;
Charlotte Bobcats Receive: Luol Deng.
The Bobcats are looking for someone to propel them into the playoffs. Deng fits their slow, defense-first style, and gives them a scoring punch. There is a decent chance they would re-sign Deng, and become a formidable team in the East for the next few years around a Kemba Walker-Al Jefferson-Deng nucleus while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist develops.
I doubt the Cavs can get Detroit’s first-rounder, but getting any first-round pick in the upcoming draft would be a steal for Deng at this point.
Cavaliers Receive: Ben Gordon, (Portland’s 2014 first-round pick).
Bobcats Receive: Cleveland’s 2014 second-round pick, cash considerations, Jarrett Jack, and Anderson Varejao.
The Cats get a intense, creative, high-IQ big man to at play backup center and in double-big lineups with Big Al. Jack’s contract is non-guaranteed for the fourth year, so it would expire with Jefferson’s. It’s not the most palatable contract, but it falls in line with the plan they have to clear the books three years from now while staying competitive in the meantime.
The Cavs get rid of Jack, and would get a late-round pick if they are lucky.
Cavaliers Receive: Andrew Nicholson;
Orlando Magic Receive: Alonzo Gee, Cleveland’s 2015 & ’16 second-round picks.
Cleveland: For some reason the Magic don’t play Nicholson. I don’t understand why. He is the perfect low-risk, high-reward stretch-4 that could re-define how the Cavs structure their team moving forward.
Magic: The Magic don’t really play him for some reason…
I DO NOT APROVE OF THIS NEXT TRADE, BUT IT COULD TOTALLY HAPPEN
Cavaliers Receive: Harrison Barnes;
Golden State Warriors Receive: Dion Waiters
The Warriors need bench scoring; the Cavs may not believe in the Waiters-Kyrie backcourt going forward.
Cavaliers Receive: $6.3M traded player exception.
Warriors Receive: Jarrett Jack
GSW: Jack excelled there last season, and they desperately need bench production. They know how good he can be, and their thirst for a championship may drive them to deal with Jack’s contract for the next few seasons.
CLEVELAND: SHEDS JACK!
Cavaliers Receive: Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Jermaine O’Neal, and Kent Bazemore;
Warriors Receive: Varejao
GSW: Varejao is a substantial upgrade over their bench front court of Speights, O’neal, and Ezeli. Varejao provides them with a game-changing big man who can form intriguing front court pairings with Lee and Bogut.
Cavs: Barnes isn’t doing well on the bench, and Varejao is a better fit with the Warriors team as currently constructed. Barnes would have half a season to prove he can be a long-term option at starting small forward for the Cavs.
Cavaliers Receive: Omer Asik;
Houston Rockets Receive: Varejao
The Rockets get a guy willing to sacrifice, who gives them the versatility to match-up with double-big lineups by using him and Dwight while not sacrificing too much offensively.
The Cavs get a young, legitimate, rim-protecting center.
Cavaliers Receive: Asik, Francisco Garcia, 2014 New York Knicks second-round pick;
Rockets Receive: Luol Deng
Deng could be an interesting guy to plug in as a stretch-4, and gives them versatility on the wing.
Cavs: See Varejao.
(THIS TRADE WILL PROBABLY NOT HAPPEN, BUT IT’S INTERESTING)
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: (Luol Deng)/Anderson Varejao, Memphis’ 2015 protected pick;
Cavaliers Receive: Steve Nash, (Steve Blake), Lakers’ unprotected 2014 first-round pick
Lakers: receive what will eventually be a lottery pick, get out of Nash’s salary commitment, have first dibs on Deng/get Varejao. Either of these guys would be perfect for the 2 final years of Kobe.
Cavaliers: get a sure-fire lottery pick in a loaded draft in exchange for taking on Nash’s salary.
Cavaliers Receive: The 1-5 protections dropped on the pick Memphis traded them last season, $2.25M TPE;
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: C.J. Miles
The Grizzlies: add another 3 and D guy on a small contract.
Cavs: basically ensure themselves a lottery pick in the upcoming years.
Cavaliers Receive: (Perry Jones III)/2.25 TPE, Dallas’ top-20 protected 2014 first-round pick/(Andre Roberson);
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: Miles
OKC: get 3 and D guy they covet.
Cleveland: gets a young player/draft pick.
Cavaliers Receive: Emeka Okafor, Washington’s 2014 first-round pick;
Phoenix Suns Receive: Luol Deng
The Suns add a versatile wing defender/scorer; Cavs net a nice first-round pick.
Cavaliers Receive: Emeka Okafor, (Indiana’s 2014 first-round pick);
Suns Receive: Anderson Varejao, Jarrett Jack
Suns’ perspective: add an experienced, skilled veteran big who would fit their playing style very well. Jack actually carries some value for them, because currently they are playing Ishmael Smith and Leandro Barbosa extended minutes at backup point guard. Jack’s contract is still a net negative in this trade, though.
Cleveland’s perspective: gets out of Jack’s contract, and if they are lucky, they can get the last pick in the first-round. I doubt they can get the pick in this trade, or any trade involving Jack, but don’t discount it.
Cavs Receive: Matt Bonner, Jeff Ayres, Nando de Colo, Spurs’ 2014 first-round pick;
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Anderson Varejao
Spurs’ perspective: let go of expendable guys, and add Varejao who was always meant to play for their team and you can’t even argue that.
Cavs’ perspective: THE PICK!
Cavs Receive: Bonner, Ayres, de Colo, Boris Diaw, Spurs’ ’14 first-round pick;
Spurs Receive: Luol Deng
Spurs: see above.
Cavs: see above.
As you can tell, I am pretty excited about this trade deadline for the Cavs. Chances are they try to win-now, and that disappointment slaps me in the face the morning of the 21st when Varejao and Deng are still on the team.
It’s going to be fun league-wide nonetheless, and I would love to see any trades you think of (preferably Cavs-centric) in the comments below.
Gott watch these ASW events, I’ll check in less than a week from now, cheers!