Five options for Cleveland at the deadline
With the deadline mere hours away, it is looking less and less likely that Cleveland will be making improvements via the trade market. With few assets left, Cleveland has little they can bring to the table in trade negotiations, and only a definitive upgrade would see Cleveland willing to part with a rotation player such as Shumpert. With no way to predict the buyout market until after the deadline, Cleveland’s last two (possibly three) roster spots are shrouded with more mystery than Scooby Doo’s van. Regardless, there are a few names still floating around that Cleveland may both desire and afford. But first, some honorable (and not so honorable) mentions:
No. Just stop.
1. Ben McElmore:
Ok. The Kings have decided that it’s time for a fire sale, and if the trade value of DeMarcus Cousins’ was any indication, every price is at least half-off. Cleveland’s interest in the athletic shooting guard in the past may result in a phone call, but with three NBA caliber starting shooting guards in Smith, Korver and Shumpert, McElmore’s role would be limited on this squad.
2. Ricky Rubio
Cleveland doesn’t really want to part with Shumpert unless it was a clear upgrade. Rubio’s pass first mentality would be excellent as a backup point guard, though his lack of shooting makes him an odd man out in Cleveland’s plans. There is no evidence that he would be a clear upgrade at the position.
3. Trey Burke:
According to a report by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, trade talks surrounding third string Utah Jazz point guard Shelvin Mack have stalled. Seen as the ideal target by many sports pundits, Cleveland’s desire for an affordable point guard has them looking at all options. While free agency and the buyout market seems to be the route Cleveland is headed. Mario Chalmers was not fully healthy during his last workout with Cleveland, Jameer Nelson would exist as a tantalizing buyout candidate, Deron Williams’ name gets tossed around every so often, though reportedly Utah is interested in his services and likely would pay. As a result Cleveland should do their due diligence on every potential opportunity, one of which being Trey Burke.
Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders first reported the news that the Washington Wizards are actively shopping the former Michigan star late Wednesday night. Burke would come to suiters at a discount as well, with his current team asking for no more than a second round pick as compensation. Burke is on the final year of his contract, and with Otto Porter and newly acquired Bogdanovic both looking at sizable contract extensions this year, Burke looks to not fit into Washington’s future plans.
Posting career highs in both field goal percentage (44.9%) and three point range (41.7%), Burke would fit well into Cleveland’s swing swing system, who’s emphasis on three point shooting requires high percentage volume shooters to space the floor. Conversely, however, Burke is a defensive liability. With the defensive end of the ball a weakness for Cleveland, Burke’s track record of having opponents shoot significantly better when he’s the primary guard could raise some eyebrows. Cleveland may, however, simply desire an off the bench stop gap for the rest of the season, a role Burke would have little trouble fulfilling.
4. Jeff Withey:
The Shelvin Mack trade might have hit a standstill, but there is nothing stopping Cleveland from enquiring about another member of Utah’s bench mob. Suggested by Bleacher Report’s Cavaliers lead writer, Greg Swartz, Withey echoes Mozgov in his skillset and story.
Never playing more than 20 minutes a game, Withey would provide Cleveland with a second true big to help rebound and defend. His per 36 minute numbers are strong, averaging a double-double in points and rebounds, and his impact was positive during the time he did play. Though somewhat of an enigma due to his limited playing time, Withey wouldn’t be asked to do more than keep Thompson’s legs fresh until midway through the playoffs.
One advantage to Withey’s limited playtime is that his cost is low. One of Cleveland’s plethora of low trade exceptions would be enough to swallow the contract, and a late or protected 2nd rounder should serve as more than enough collateral to take some salary and a roster spot off of Utah’s hands.
5. Andrew Bogut:
Fun fact, no team has won an NBA championship without an Australian on their squad since 2013 (credit to r/NBA user MiopTop because we are not going through this again). Cleveland already has Kyrie Irving, but what not replace the grit we lost from Delly, with a gritty grizzled Aussie veteran.
Bogut would be the big prize of the NBA trade season for Cleveland. Paul George isn’t coming here, neither is Butler, or Melo or just about any all-star. What Cleveland would get instead was a one year rental on a Championship caliber center, who paired with Tristan Thompson wouldn’t let a single rebound go to the other team.
As mentioned before, Bogut wouldn’t be a difference maker, but he could play real minutes during the NBA finals. Known for his defense and rebounding, Bogut’s skill comes outside his stat line. Hustle, good locker room presence and another subtle jab at Golden State alone would be worth the trade alone, though if Cleveland wants him, it will cost.
Matching salary would be difficult, and parting ways with someone like Channing Frye or Iman Shumpert would be necessary to facilitate a one to one trade. Griffin is, however, a wizard and could find a third team willing to help salary balance. Bogut was held out of practice Wednesday according to a report, making his exit seem even likelier. With Bogut’s value being estimated around that of a 2nd round pick or two (due to his expiring contract and age, not necessarily his skill and/or production) Cleveland just might have the assets to do it, the question is would another rebound needy team such as Boston pull the trigger faster and for more.
Trade Prediction: Patrick Beverly+K.J McDaniels/Nene/Montrell Harris:
Boy the Rockets sure do have a bunch of great players Cleveland would want to add. First on the list, and the primary reason Griffin would listen to any talks surrounding Iman Shumpert, is backup point guard and defensive specialist, Patrick Beverly. I’ve preached the word of Beverly before, his defense and ball handling skills, as well as off ball play are some of the best in the league for a non-All Star. Losing Shumpert to acquire Beverly would result as a net positive for Cleveland, even before another contract would be added to help balance salary. Unfortunately the Rockets front office also understands this, and is reportedly unwilling to give the complementary point guard away. If Cleveland could get him however, they have a bevy of options as to matching salary.
K.J McDaniels is one name that jumps out. A youthful prospect, McDaniels would add a similar presence to Derrick Williams, whose natural athleticism just needs mentoring and polishing before he can establish himself as a true NBA rotation player. If it’s youth Cleveland are looking to add, McDaniels would be a steal to have added to the trade.
On the other hand, Cleveland’s win now mode, and desire for a traditional big man, may instead draw them towards one of Houston’s plethora of traditional bigs. One such potential name, veteran center Nene. A solid rebounder off the bench, who has a large deal of playoff experience, Nene likely wouldn’t see time during the NBA finals, but would at least make the first round of roster consolidation.
A compromise between the two, and what would represent arguably the best trade Cleveland could make, comes in the form of sophomore Montrell Harris. A fantasy darling, Harris regularly channeled his inner Tristan Thompson and grabbed every board in sight while filling in for injured Clint Capella. On an inexpensive contract for another two years, Harris could form the foundations of a post-Kevin Love front court sometime in the next five years, and his addition to an already favorable trade might make me consider building an shrine to David Griffin in my living room.