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Dion Waiters Future in Cleveland in Question with Prince and Koufos Trade Rumors?

Joe Murphy/NBA (via Getty IMAGES)

Tayshaun Prince – SF Memphis Grizzlies

Scroll to the bottom of the page to read about Kosta Koufos’ trade rumors

Most NBA fans know Tayshaun Prince, whether it be for his epic, game saving, come-from-behind block on Reggie Miller in the Eastern Conference Finals or for his championship in only his 2nd year with the Detroit Pistons. Prince is a defensive swingman who has the ability to contribute on the offensive end as well.

Prince, who started his career in Detroit in 2002 until being traded away to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013, has been a starting small forward his entire career with the exception of his rookie season. That is, until this season with the Grizzlies where Prince is not only not starting, but he’s seemingly fallen out of head coach Dave Joerger’s rotation. With Tony Allen and Courtney Lee in the starting lineup along with Quincy Pondexter and Vince Carter as the first swingmen off the bench, playing time is a hard thing to come by for Prince.

Beginning December 15, the Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to make a trade using their $5.3 million trade exception from the deal they made involving Keith Bogans in the offseason. The 15th of December is when most players who were signed in the offseason will be eligible to be traded.

No one is sure of the likelihood of a possible buyout from Memphis, but at this stage in his career, Prince wants to be able to contribute to a winning team. His team is winning, and doing it with him on the bench. A best case scenario for him would include relocating to another team in a “win-now” mode via trade or buyout, such as the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers will be reluctant to give up the young players in Dellavedova, Thompson, and Waiters, despite Dion’s struggling to fit with the team at times. Prince is making $7.7 million this season, so the $5.3 million trade exception will not be enough to make a trade. Because that exception also cannot be added on to a player to equal out the salaries, the Cavs would have to give up Tristan Thompson in a Cavs-Grizzlies trade. That trade is not going to happen however, as Thompson is a young as well as up-and-coming power forward who’s close to LeBron James. Besides that, a Prince-for-Thompson trade would heavily favor Memphis, who already have 2 great big men in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. It seems that any hopes to bring Prince to Cleveland via trade would have to involve a third team.

If the Cavaliers were intent on not trading for him, and the Grizzlies find that Prince is no longer someone they could use on their team, they could buy him out. Cleveland could then claim him off of waivers for less than he’s making now, and Memphis would save some money by letting him go if they don’t need him. That seems to be the way to go, although it seems to be unlikely at this point.

So would bringing Tayshaun Prince, who will be 35 in January, to the Cavaliers be a good idea? Prince is about 5 years removed from his best statistical season and definitely out of his prime. Having only played 10 out of the 19 possible games this season, including 6 starts, Prince is averaging just 7.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in only 22.4 minutes per game this season, the lowest amount of minutes he’s averaged since his rookie season. He’s always been a relatively healthy and effective player, averaging 73.5 games played per season out of the whole 82, so it just seems to be a matter of playing time in Memphis.

The Cavaliers have LeBron James, Shawn Marion, and James Jones signed at the small forward spot. Because James and Marion have been paired up in the starting lineup, the Cavs haven’t had a suitable small forward off the bench to rest James. James is averaging 38.1 minutes per game, the highest he’s played since going for 38.8 mpg in his first year as a member of the Miami Heat. Shawn Marion was expected to be his backup, but with Dion Waiters not fitting in the starting 5, starting Marion has been far more effective than Waiters.

That’s where Prince would likely come in: serving as James’ backup off the bench. His minutes would expectedly stay similar to the 22.4 he’s playing now or possibly less with Marion and Miller already on the team playing well. Resting James will be crucial, however, as the Cavaliers being to make their run for the playoffs in March and April. Prince is a more than capable two-way player if used correctly, despite his age. The Cavs roster is not as young as some may think, as the team average is a little more than 30 years of age. With Marion at 36, Haywood at 35, and Miller as well as Jones at 34, the Cavaliers have key veterans that will need rest in order to be fresh for the playoffs in April, May, and hopefully June.

One thing is for sure, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be pushing hard to add whoever they could deem vital to their near future. Some of the names that have been linked to the Cavs include Prince, Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko, and Timberwolves guard Corey Brewer. Even if they don’t find anyone to trade for and/or use their $5.3 million exception on this season, they could hold onto it and use it before it expires in September of 2015.

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