After a particularly shaky stretch, rumors about the Cleveland Cavaliers hitting the trade market continue to swirl.
For a few weeks, the hot topic among NBA rumors has been that the Cavaliers need... a lot. Despite being the No. 1 team in the conference, the Cavs have been rumored to need a backup point guard, an interior defender, a backup wing, a "playmaker," and a new guy to wipe up the sweat from under the hoop after someone falls down.
It's getting a bit ridiculous. However, the Cavaliers are a ridiculous organization right now: Dan Gilbert sees potential problems and overreacts. LeBron James calls out ownership whenever the mood strikes him. The sideline reporter accidentally said "masturbation" on the air (to the delight of thousands of very mature viewers). It was kind of a mess before Friday's comfortable win over the Nets.
So whose names have been tossed into the ring and what are the odds that Cleveland can actually get any of them?
This one needs mentioning because it's been everywhere. It's not happening. If you want to ignore it, skip the rest of this paragraph. The only way the Cavs could get Carmelo would be if they got rid of Kevin Love. I've not been high on Kevin Love this season - particularly lately as he's in an incredible shooting slump - but this trade would be nuts. Kevin Love is a stretch 4, a solid rebounder, and a questionable defender. He is 28 years old. Carmelo Anthony is somewhere between a 3 and 4. He can shoot, he's an OK rebounder, and he's a questionable defender. He will be 33 years old before the season ends. Melo plays an awfully similar position to LeBron so the Cavs would be committing to going small, but they already lack depth in the front court. If there were some way to give up less to get him, I'd at least listen to it, but he makes $25m this year and more next year. Love is making $21m this year and then more after that. The one upside of a possible Carmelo-to-Cleveland would be that he might improve the matchup with the Warriors, which is exactly what everyone is worried about. Kevin Love was largely a nonfactor in the Finals (some would argue the Cavaliers were better without him, even if he showed up in a few big spots) because of his inability to switch on smaller guys. Carmelo is a little agiler and a little smaller. He would be better suited for switching screens all over the place.
This one I can get into. Bogut has said that he doesn't expect a buyout and he doesn't expect to be back in Dallas next season. With an expiring contract, he's a prime candidate to be traded to a contender. The problem is that the Cavs don't have the pieces to make this trade. One of the only players who would fit would be Shump ($9.6m vs. Bogut's $11.m), but Shumpert has been playing exceptionally well this year. The Cavs could maybe do Frye ($7.8m) and a trade exception (Varejao's is $4.4m) for Bogut, but why would Dallas do that if they're committing to a rebuild? They most likely wouldn't. If there are no good trade offers, maybe Dallas does give him the buyout and the Cavs can go for it, but most likely someone will be able to offer a first rounder for Bogut and it won't be the Cavs.
Rajon Rondo (again)
The thing about Rondo is that he's another high-priced guy who hasn't been a good teammate in about five years. While he was an incredible teammate at his best, he's been a team cancer at his worst. I previously thought that there was no way the Cavs would go for him because he's been such a locker room disaster, but after the latest Instagram mess, there's a real chance that the Bulls are willing to do anything to get rid of him. I'm sure they're fielding calls from around the league, and David Griffin would be wise to at least see how cheaply they could grab Rondo.
Jameer Nelson/Jarrett Jack
This has been discussed before. Recent rumors are suggesting that Jameer Nelson is the most likely target for the Cavaliers.
As reported by NESN. Pros: He's not old (26), he's a six-year veteran, he's been a backup PG on a few different teams and done it well. He fits comfortably into a trade exception, meaning the Cavs don't have to worry about the cost of his contract - which is low ($2.5m this year). Cons: He's a career backup and advanced stats don't treat him kindly, he's a bad three-point shooter, and he's an expiring contract this year so he'd be a temporary half-solution.
OK, I only threw this one in because I'm pretty sure people in Ohio have been talking about trading for him ever since he came out of Ohio State. I haven't seen this rumor yet this year from anyone official, but it's coming. It won't go through because it never does and because Koufos isn't the rim protector that the Cavs need (although he's better than nobody, I guess) and because the salaries would again be tough to match without giving up Frye or Shump. I think it's possible to do the $4.8m Dunleavy exception + RJ at $2.5m, but I'm not sure that'll happen. With the way Jefferson's playing lately, it's not entirely out of the question.
For the Cavaliers, it's about prioritizing. LeBron keeps saying "playmaker," but it's hard to say what that actually means. Is Andrew Bogut a playmaker? He doesn't dribble the ball, but he's a tremendous interior passer who can anchor a defense by blocking shots. If he's not, is Shelvin Mack enough of a playmaker to fit the bill? Maybe. Maybe not.
It's strange to say it, but as defending champs with an almost unlimited payroll, I don't envy David Griffin right now.