Is backup PG help moments away?
One of the stories all season for the Cavaliers was who they would acquire to back up point guard Kyrie Irving, and when the help would arrive. With the departure of Matthew Dellavedova to the Milwaukee Bucks in a massive deal the Cavs simply couldn’t match, there has been a void all season in the spot in the rotation filled by Dellavedova last year. In a search to fill the spot, the Cavs held a tryout a few weeks ago and brought in LeBron James’ former teammate Mario Chalmers, along with fellow guards Jordan Farmer and Kirk Hinrich. To this point, none of the players have been offered, which has turned attention to the trade market.
Cleveland has nearly $5.5 million in trade exceptions dating back to last January when they shipped out veteran Anderson Varejao and teammate Jared Cunningham. The Cavaliers have just a few hours left until the trade exception deadline, leading to a lot of speculation about whether or not they will pull the trigger on a backup PG. A possibility with the greatest steam is a deal with the Utah Jazz, one that would see the Cavaliers ship Jordan McRae, a future second round pick, and the Varejao trade exception, and in return they would receive their coveted backup guard in Shelvin Mack and big man Jeff Withey.
With a diverse skillset, Mack would be a welcome addition to the Cavalier backcourt. Mack is an above average defender, and also has the ability to score the ball when needed, just the type of player Cleveland’s second unit could use. His 3 point shooting percentage is down this season, but he could see more open looks playing alongside James at times. Some may look at him as a throw in, but 7 footer Jeff Withey could also be an asset down the stretch if Cleveland makes this deal. He would provide an extra big body, and with Kevin Love’s injury and Tristan Thompson playing the center position, he could give those guys a rest heading into the playoffs.
The Utah Jazz would be winners in this deal as well. Acquiring the trade exception could be useful next season as the Jazz look to continue to build and push to become a competitor in the Western Conference. McRae has also proven he has the ability to light it up on the offensive end, highlighted by his 36 points in the season finale of 2016 against Detroit. With James, Irving, and Love providing much of the power on offense for Cleveland, McRae never got a real chance to showcase what he could do with more opportunities, Utah may just be the place for him.