Chris Grant spoiled me. In 2011, he picked up a lottery-pick for Mo Williams; in 2012, he picked up a first-round pick and the rights to swap first rounders the following season with the Lakers; in 2013, although it didn’t come at the deadline, he picked up what’s likely going to be a lottery pick from the Grizzlies in the near future.
When the Cavs didn’t pick up a first-round pick– or any pick for that matter– I felt cheated.
My mood skewed my view of the trade that did happen.
The Cavaliers traded Earl Clark, Henry Sims, Memphis’ 2014 2nd-round pick and their own 2014 second-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Spencer Hawes
In a vacuum, my grade for this trade is an A-, and here is why:
I proposed the Cavs pursue Andrew Nicholson– forward on the Orlando Magic, and send out one or two second-round picks in exchange. The Cavs desperately needed to experiment with a stretch-big. It should not be classified as an experiment; it was an incessant need, cut and dry.
Every time you watch the Cavs, there it is: the lack of spacing. It’s impossible to eschew. They have had the worst spacing in the league for three and a half years.
Hawes is a bonafide outside shooter. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see Kyrie and Dion Waiters potentially play with two shooters on the floor at once– C.J. Miles and Hawes– ground-breaking! He’s also a good passer, and he’s a better finisher (56.7% in the restricted area) than Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson (that’s not a fervent endorsement of his finishing ability).
Unlike Varejao and Thompson, his offensive rebounding is basically nonexistent because he sits on the perimeter to stretch the floor. If you have seen the Cavs over the past two and a half seasons, you probably know having two superb offensive rebounders on the floor at the same time isn’t as lucrative as it sounds. He should be a natural fit in the front court next to Thompson.
Defensively, Hawes is a center; he’s not a masterful rim-protector (still better than Varejao and Thompson), but he is a guy whose presence is felt as a center.
As for his gradual decline into terrible play (his numbers have taken a hit from month to month)… it’s a little concerning. If you made me bet on why he’s struggling, I would say he’s begun walking through the motions for a team that has no defense, doesn’t know how to win, and has, like, four NBA players. It also doesn’t help that he’s the anchor to this team’s porous perimeter defense and carries a big load offensively on a night-to-night basis for the fastest-paced team since the 2009-10 Golden State Warriors (they are .25 possessions slower than that Warriors team, by the way).
But I am digressing. This trade lets the Cavs see the future of their team. If there is a fundamental chemistry that develops with the core and Hawes– which all basketball philosophies would suggest happening, whether they re-sign Hawes or not, management will know the type of player to pursue going forward.
The downside is they traded away one high second-round pick for him. For a potentially franchise-changing player (not he himself, but the type of player he represents), it’s fair value.
But nothing happens in a vacuum.
And that’s why, given context, the Cavs’ A- deadline deal becomes a C- overall grade at the deadline.
The Cavs took the biggest hit with the moves they didn’t make.
- This was there last chance to trade Varejao at anywhere near market value. Now, the Cavs have to hope he doesn’t get more injured and finishes the year well, just to dump him for depreciated value on draft night to avoid his cap hit.
- Jack has been awful this entire season. His only remote success came in the past few games, and he has been effective by just not playing his game and acting as a placeholder offensively. The only difference between Jack’s recent play and Matthew Dellavedova’s cheaper, more consistent play is that Delly plays defense.
- Deng has averaged 13 points on 38.7/50/83.3 splits (don’t think for a second that 3P% is sustainable), 4.4 boards, 2 assists, and 1 steal over 32.5 minutes per game during this winning streak. The Cavs chose not to trade him, hoping he would be impressed enough by the post All-Star break Cavs to re-sign for +$11M per year over 2-4 years. This was the highest Deng’s value will ever be. Instead of getting decent value for him, he’s either going to walk for nothing at the end of the year, or the Cavs are going to overpay him. Great!
(If you don’t think shelling out $11M per year to Deng long-term is a good investment, check out Trevor Ariza– a guy who can still run– who is having a better season. Why have Deng when you can have Ariza for just as much, or less? He’s undoubtedly a better fit for this team, at the very least.)
David Griffin was reportedly listening to offers, but could not find a good trade for any of these players. I am calling BS on this for a number of reasons.
According to every guy with sources ever, the Cavs were getting calls for Jack. I was already celebrating when I heard this news. The Nets were offering Jason Terry straight-up; the Kings were offering Jason Thompson; and the Timberwolves were reportedly interested in Jack after losing the Andre Miller sweepstakes to the Wizards.
I was pretty hype because I would take any of those deals without hesitating. We lucked out! People chose to ignore how badly Jack has played this season!
- Terry’s contract is $675K less than Jack’s this season, and $450K less next season as an expiring contract. His reduced cap hit is nice cushioning, but the lack of a third year is a huge get. There is also not the pressure of long-term guaranteed money forcing Mike Brown to play Terry a single minute, which opens up time for Delly, C.J. Miles, Waiters, and even Sergey Karasev. That’s much better than having Jack both financially, and developmentally.
- The rumored deal for Thompson was less appealing, but it would still be better than having Jack. Thompson’s contract is just as long as Jack’s, but it pays $5.6M, $6.03M, and $6.4M in consecutive years as opposed to Jack’s $6.3M base salary– giving the Cavs slightly more breathing room financially, and in the rotation. Thompson also has some upside because he is 27-years old with size and some skills, and he’s played for a poorly run team his entire career. It’s conceivable he could have a decent run with the Cavs (he is entering his prime, after all), prove he’s worth the money, and either be kept through his contract without a collective gag from the fan-base or moved for expirings. Conversely, this is in all likelihood the peak of Jack’s value as a trade chip, until he becomes an expiring contract. Once again, this is a solid trade.
- I won’t harp on any rumored trade that fell through with the Timberwolves, because no names got leaked. I will just say it was, from my perspective, likely for the irritated J.J. Barea. His contract is a year shorter, and considerably less money than Jack’s… which would once again represent a better alternative to Jack.
But when you can liberate yourself from the worst mistake of the past three years, always pass it up because he looked mediocre against the Sixers, Magic, and Pistons.
Any trade for Deng is a good enough trade for Deng.
Griffin claimed he heard a lot of offers for him, but none were enticing. I can think of a package that was probably on the table, and he declined: Danny Granger and a future second-round pick.
I have a hard time believing that’s the best they could get for him. The Cavs traded two decent second-round picks for Spencer Hawes. Luol Deng is a legitimate starter on a championship-caliber team.
With that said, even if the best offer on the table was an order of onion rings, a six pack, and someone like Ben Gordon, why not take it? Deng hasn’t fit in on this team, and there is a 90% chance he walks anyway (barring the Cavs shelling out some ridiculous amount of money– a possibility that grows with Dan Gilbert’s manic, delusional expectations).
I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to get something.
The other loss, of course, is having Deng around for a third of the season to swing a few games this team would not have won if it were stripped to its core. He’s not gelling with the core, and he is not a part of the core. Playing out the rest of the season as if he is a part of the bigger picture makes absolutely no sense– especially in a year where a top-7 pick could completely change the complexion of your franchise.
Why not just pick up Anthony Morrow, Francisco Garcia, or Granger with picks attached to them, and watch a rough draft of what the core group of guys looks like with a good set-shooter at small forward? This way, the core can build chemistry, the team has a better assessment of their players’ strengths and weaknesses, and they pick at a position in the draft that reflects how far along their core is as opposed to this artificial mess.
The way things are gearing up, it looks like the Cavs are going to pick something like 11th in June, and overpay Deng in July.
I was thoroughly disturbed by the way the Cavs handled this Varejao situation at the deadline.
His name did not even surface in fictitious trade rumors! Why?!?!?!
Varejao should have been dealt for financial reasons, soon-to-be vanished leverage reasons (everyone knows the Cavs must trade him during the draft to clear cap), health reasons (no telling he makes it to the draft healthy), and basic long-term philosophical reasons (he won’t be on the team next season, so get a return on him).
(Quick summary if you skimmed the past two sections and a paragraph: THE CAVS DON’T HAVE MUCH LEVERAGE, SO GETTING ANYTHING FOR THESE GUYS IS A HUGE PLUS!)
That’s all before the Hawes trade.
Now the Cavs have three centers who should play 20-30 minutes per game, two young power forwards deserving of 20-30 minutes and 25-35 minutes per night, respectively, and a slow small forward who has potential as a small-ball 4, and deserves time there for experimental purposes. How does this rotation sort itself out? I can’t think of anything logical if Varejao is assumed to be healthy again this season.
The main argument for keeping the team in tact is that “it shows the guys we believe in them.”
But is that really what’s going on? Who are “the guys”? How is Zeller supposed to feel about this deadline? First, the team played the cantankerous Andrew Bynum over him for half a year, then he starts playing really great basketball (15.05 PER)… and then he gets to pushed back into the role of 5th big man! Was this demotion a vote of confidence? How about when they shopped him to the Clippers for Reggie Bullock?
The vote of confidence was given to Waiters, Jack, Deng, and Varejao.
Varejao was hurt for most of the winning streak, as Zeller blossomed.
The votes of confidence should be going to the young core that’s slowly breaking through.
The players on the team aren’t stupid; if the Cavs traded Deng, Varejao, and Jack for basketball reasons, the other guys on the team would understand why. Why give a vote of confidence to guys who won’t be around if you believe in guys who will be around?
Not trading Varejao and Jack directly obstructs the growth of Waiters, Karasev Miles, Delly, Zeller, and Bennett. Imagine if the Cavs traded the vets, and gave the young players the time they deserve. That’s a vote of confidence to the core— the only vote of confidence that actually matters.
The increased time would signal to Bennett, Dellavedova, Miles, Zeller, and Waiters that the team believes they displayed enough talent and maturity to be trusted with important minutes on a night-in-night-out basis.
(For example: When the Raptors traded Rudy Gay, the guys were sad to see him go because they felt they could have accomplished more if they stayed together, but the core guys– Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, and DeMar DeRozan– embraced the added responsibility.)
Instead, Dellavedova will continue to play behind Jack– who he is better than, Zeller will struggle to find time, the Cavs will over kick their coverage in terms of draft position, and they sacrificed the opportunity to add assets to make this all happen.
Imagine if they picked up four second-round picks between trades for Deng and Varejao? That’s enough value to dump Jack’s salary on a team like the Sixers!
Teams don’t hold onto valuable rentals unless they are chasing something. Young teams add to their core; they don’t give their core little boosts from year-to-year. The front office continues to fall victim to the arbitrary year-3 playoff expectation. Not every team is the Thunder. Not every team can sign the right guys on the first go around, and draft Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Jeff Green, and Serge Ibaka over three drafts. The Cavs team struck out in free agency, they lost the Deng trade, and drafted in three very weak drafts.
The Pacers, Grizzlies, and Trail Blazers are all perfect examples of teams that didn’t panic, traded veterans for assets, added core players, and sat through disappointing seasons as the team grew organically– even if it looked futile. It’s worth noting that the youngest contributor on any of these teams in the years they took leaps was a 21/22-year old Paul George (who wasn’t the primary contributor, like 21/22-year old Kyrie). The oldest core contributor moving forward (depends if he’s re-signed) on the Cavs is Miles– 26.
The Cavs– stripped to their core– have a bottom-7 team that needs a top-7 player in this draft. Conversely, the front office is trying their best to spruce this team up to a point that makes NBA fans uncomfortable– it’s kinda like watching those beauty pageant toddler moms caking over-sexualized makeup on their prepubescent daughters.
I guess you can ignore the obvious case of cognitive dissonance present in the organization by blinding yourself to how this effects this team long-term– GO GET THAT 9TH SEED, CAVS! WOOOOOOO! WOOOOO!… *Starts crying* *grabs ice cream* *assumes fetal position*.