With the trade deadline close at hand, rumors are heating up. Cousins moved, Carmelo is allegedly still available, and the Celtics might be looking for Jimmy Butler. Are the Cavs going to do anything?
The NBA trade deadline used to only be a trade deadline: Players would move, picks would be dealt, and fans would read about it the next morning.
Then Twitter happened. Now the trade deadline is a week-long event where fans constantly refresh Woj's Twitter feed to see if someone has agreed to a deal. If it's not Woj, fans freak out because Isiah Thomas tweeted out an emoji of a pair of eyes, which is the same thing he did before the Celtics signed Al Horford. If it's neither of those, fans are retweeting fake Twitter accounts who have broken fake news stories. It's the best.
The Cavaliers, despite being mentioned in countless rumors (Carmelo Anthony being chief among them), have been relatively quiet. Cleveland did offload Chris Andersen to Charlotte in exchange for a second round pick, but that's it. They let their Anderson Varejao trade exception (TPE, for short) expire on Monday night in addition to the smaller TPE from Jared Cunningham: Essentially the TPE means that the Cavaliers can take on a player in a trade, using the value of the TPE, without it counting against their salary cap number. The TPE for Varejao was about $4.5 million and the one from Cunningham was just under $1 million.
The good news is that the Cavaliers still have a few other TPEs, including one from the Korver trade worth just under $5 million. It is worth noting that TPEs cannot be combined.
So where are we now? Cleveland is still lacking a backup point guard, is horribly thin in the frontcourt with Kevin Love injured, and is playing LeBron James about 75 minutes per night. What options do the Cavaliers still have at this late stage in the trade season?
Point Guard Trade Targets
1) Shelvin Mack
The Cavaliers are in a bit of a pickle: Mack has been on their radar as a backup PG for quite some time, but he's on a team that's currently fifth in the Western Conference. Why would that team want to deal a solid role player? They wouldn't - unless Utah truly thinks they're getting the better end of the deal. Cleveland would have to give up a worthwhile player instead of just throwing money at Utah. Mack only makes $2.4 million this year, which is the final year of his contract, so the Cavaliers' best bet is to really sell Utah on the idea that he'll demand more money next year so they might as well get something in return for him.
As far as players whose contracts fit, it's Richard Jefferson or bust.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst has reported that the Cavs are shopping Iman Shumpert*, but if Cleveland wanted to do a two-player deal with Shump's larger contract then it would likely include a second point guard from Utah and there's just no way the Jazz would do that. Mack's contract would fit into Mo Williams's $2.2 million TPE, but again, Utah absolutely will demand something in return for their backup point guard.
Unfortunately, Jameer Nelson is probably off the market at this stage due to a similar situation in Denver: They're in the playoff hunt and he's a solid contributor.
2) Deron Williams
Williams is another guy who has been on Cleveland's radar, but there's a chance that Dallas starts looking to the future and moves him. Williams is in the final year of his $9 million contract and the Mavericks are a few games out of the eighth spot in the playoffs. Additionally, they signed younger point guard Yogi Ferrell to a full contract after he was a monster upon being called up from the D-League - the kid can ball. For Dallas, a Shumpert for Williams trade serves the following purposes: They'll get more outside shooting (Shump is a career best 40% this year), backup minutes for Wes Matthews and their point guards, a stud defender, a young player added to their core, and it perhaps keeps Dallas out of the playoffs and in the lottery where they can add another piece. In a year when seemingly everyone has traded their first round picks, Dallas retains theirs.
For the Cavaliers, I would hate to see Shumpert go, but David Griffin consistently ignores my advice for some reason. The Cavs would receive an accomplished, talented, offensive weapon at backup point guard. They would also be committing for a "sooner rather than later" mindset, considering Williams turns 33 this summer when Shumpert turns 27 (weird! They were both born on June 26). Williams is more likely to be a contributor in the playoffs than most of the other PG options the Cavs have been rumored to want this season, which is nice, but Shumpert has been very good for Cleveland. Shumpert is far better defensively than Williams.
While I disagree with wanting to move Shump, I wonder if Cleveland is willing to part with him because of a suddenly-crowded shooting guard/small forward area. Korver has been unbelievable and when JR Smith comes back there won't be that many minutes available. Since Korver is the new thing in town, maybe that's what is pushing Shumpert away.
3) DJ Augustin
Not a lot of optimism that this would happen, and for DJ's sake, I almost hope it doesn't. The poor guy has been on seven teams since 2012-2013. Of course, none of those teams have been very good, so it might be nice for him to join a winner. He's a capable passer, a decent shooter, and is only 29 years old. Of the potential trade targets, he's not the most likely as he's in the first year of a four-year contract, but you never know in the NBA.
Guys to Sign
This, to me, is more likely than a trade, considering the way big trades affect the free agent market.
1) Langston Galloway or Tyreke Evans
The most likely outcome of this week for the Cavaliers is to sign one of these two players. Allegedly one or both of them will be waived in the aftermath of the DeMarcus Cousins trade, and both are backup point guards who would fit nicely behind Kyrie Irving. Evans hasn't turned into the stud that many expected but he's been hampered by injuries over the past two seasons while being mired on bad or mediocre teams. Galloway has never been much of a pass-first point guard but perhaps that was because the Knicks were never much of a pass-first team.
Of the two, Evans is the better player. While Galloway has hit 38% of his three-pointers vs. Tyreke's 30%, Galloway is actually shooting worse from inside the arc where Evans can be a solid finisher.
2) Norris Cole, Jordan Farmar, or Mario Chalmers
Chalmers and Farmer were part of the private workout bunch that included Kirk Hinrich and Lance Stephenson but which produced zero signings. Derrick Williams became available and the Cavs decided that was enough for now. It's still entirely possible that one of those guards ends up in Cleveland, but it still feels like Norris Cole is a better option than the other two because he's actually played basketball recently. Even Chinese league basketball is more relevant than rehabbing from injury.
3) Andrew Bogut
Bogut getting bought out and then signing in Cleveland has been a popular rumor for a while and I still just don't know why Dallas would do it, but if it happened he would be phenomenal inside and provide serious rim protection in (probably) limited minutes. This would be similar to the Deron Williams move - I just don't see what the upside is for Dallas unless they're tearing it down and committing to go young. That's possible, but you'd think they'd wait til Dirk retired.
4) Matt Barnes
He's not exactly a position of need for the Cavaliers, but wouldn't Matt Barnes be great to have against the Warriors in the Finals? Wouldn't it just add to the madness of the Finals knowing that Matt Barnes could come in, knock the hell out of someone, draw a flagrant, and get Golden State out of their element? I would welcome him with open arms because he's quite possibly a lunatic.
The Cavaliers will most likely not sit idly by and let the trade deadline pass. At the very least they'll be active in talks, but remember: Even if no trade is made by the 23rd, the Cavs are probably not done.
*Minnesota has been in the news as having a lot of interest in Shump, but it's unclear what would work for Cleveland in return. Ricky Rubio has long been mentioned as a backup for the Cavaliers but a second Cavs player would likely have to be thrown in for contract purposes. Additionally, Rubio making $14 million per year to be the second point guard doesn't make a lot of sense unless Kyrie is secretly moving to shooting guard.