Cavs news: Raptors, Kings, and Pelicans interested in Iman Shumpert
With the trade of Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics, the Cavs brought in a very good wing player in Jae Crowder. Crowder’s versatility will be welcomed to Cleveland, as he can play and guard the shooting guard, small forward, and power forward positions. With the offseason additions of Jeff Green and Cedi Osman, the presence of sharpshooter Kyle Korver and starting guard JR Smith, as well as the rumored possibility of adding current Chicago Bulls’ guard Dwyane Wade later in the season, it appears as if Iman Shumpert has become expendable.
Since arriving in Cleveland along with Smith midway through the 2014-2015 season, Shumpert has been an important rotational player for the Cavs. Last season, he averaged 7.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.4 assists on 41 percent shooting while making 36 percent of his three-point attempts. His reputation as a great defender is a bit overstated, but he is now probably the Cavs’ 4th-best perimeter defender, after LeBron James, Crowder, and Smith.
While his usage hasn’t exactly decreased as he’s always had a spot in coach Tyronn Lue’s rotation, trading Shumpert is not a new idea for the Cavs. Two months ago, as free agency began, there were reports that the Houston Rockets almost completed a trade for Shumpert before signing P.J. Tucker instead. Now, the New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors, and Sacramento Kings apparently have interest in acquiring Shumpert.
The Pelicans are in desperate need of rotational wing players as they are incredibly weak in that area following Solomon Hill’s injury. So thin, in fact, that Shumpert would probably be their starting forward if they elect to start Rajon Rondo at point guard and Jrue Holiday at shooting guard. As Shumpert is a quality role player, he would normally be a very attractive trade piece. His contract, however, has made dealing him a challenge for the Cavs. He is owed $10.3 million this season, with a player option worth $11 million for 2018-2019. For a contending team already over the cap like Cleveland, this isn’t an issue. But it makes it difficult for teams like New Orleans, who are close to the salary cap, to trade for him. One of the only ways the Pelicans would be able to trade for Shumpert would be to swap him straight up for the disgruntled Omer Asik. His contract is worth slightly more per season than Shumpert’s, but lasts for an extra year. Given how terrible Asik has been on both sides of the floor over the last few years, the Cavs have no interest in him.
Another team that is interested in Shumpert is the Toronto Raptors. The Cavs have faced Toronto in the playoffs for the past few seasons, but obviously they are not averse to trading with rival competition, as evidenced by the Kyrie Irving deal. The Raptors don’t have much to willingly offer the Cavs in return for Shumpert, so it seems unlikely that he’ll be a Raptor.
The Sacramento Kings could also use some wing defense, and Shumpert would help with that, but more importantly, Sacramento could make an attractive offer to Cleveland. With the presence of young players such as Willie Cauley-Stein, Georgios Papagiannis, and Skal Labissiere, center Kosta Koufos has been buried on the depth chart. Koufos is a solid center, providing rim protection and post defense, two things the Cavs desperately need. New acquisition Ante Zizic has the potential to turn into a very good player, but cannot be counted upon to contribute at this point in his career. Koufos would give the Cavaliers a capable backup to Tristan Thompson, something they have lacked since Timofey Mozgov was on the team.
Although Iman Shumpert now finds himself low on the totem pole within a crowded wing group, he remains a quality player. The Cavaliers certainly are not under any pressure to trade him, and should not do so just to get rid of him. He should remain on the team unless they are recouping his value elsewhere, as young, solid 3-and-D players are extremely valuable in today’s NBA.