The Cleveland Cavaliers pulled the trigger on what turned out to be some very effective trades in early January, first trading away Dion Waiters in a three-team trade to acquire J.R. Smith as well as Iman Shumpert, and then followed it up by trading for Denver’s Timofey Mozgov in exchange for two first-round draft picks. This mid-season acquisition got us wondering about some of the Cavs best in-season acquisitions in the past couple of years. Here are the top 5 acquisitions the Cavs were able to pull off in recent years, starting with number five:
5. Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes
Prior to the trade deadline in the 2013-14 season, Cleveland pulled off two stunning trades when they acquired Bulls forward Luol Deng and Sixers’ center Spencer Hawes. Although they would become free agents at season’s end, Cleveland still took a chance on the two players in hopes of convincing one of them to resign with the Cavaliers while also trying to bring back LeBron James.
In 40 games for the Cavs, Deng averaged 14.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists while playing 22.8 points. Hawes played 27 games and averaged 13.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 29.8 minutes per.
4. Antawn Jamison (and eventually Zydrunas Ilgauskas)
In the days and hours prior to the trade deadline of the 2009-10 season, Cleveland was among the most active teams trying to improve their roster for the playoffs. With Anderson Varejao and Shaquille O’Neal on board as the centers, Cleveland traded Zydrunas Ilgauskas and a draft pick to the Washington Wizards in exchange for proven forward Antawn Jamison. Jamison would play 25 games and helped the Cavs to a 61-21 record, averaging 15.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 32.4 minutes, but struggled mightily in the playoffs as the Cavs were eliminated by the Celtics.
3. Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace came over in the trade from the Bulls during the 2007-08 season, and gave the Cavaliers a lockdown paint defender with championship experiencedespite Wallace being 33 years old. He averaged 4.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game that season for the Cavs at the power forward position, since Ilgauskas was the starting center.
2. Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West
The Ben Wallace acquisition was part of a three-team deal, and Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West were also acquired from the Seattle Supersonics in the same deal during the 2007-08 season. Wally Szczerbiak was brought in as a major floor spacer for the Cavs, while Delonte West would take occasional ball-handling duties from Mo Williams and LeBron James. Wally Szczerbiak averaged 7.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in his two seasons with the Cavs. Delonte West was far more of a contributor to the Cavs in their title chase as he averaged 10.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.2 steals in his three seasons as a Cavalier.
1. J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and TImofey Mozgov
The biggest mid-season acquisitions have to be the ones of J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from the New York Knicks, as well as Timofey Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets. The championship aspirations that Cavaliers had coming into the season and the way they struggled prior to the trades makes this the most important and impressive mid-season acquisitions by Cleveland in recent years. Alongside LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, J.R. Smith is averaging 12.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.7 steals per game as a full-time starter for the Cavs. Starting center Mozgov is having a career boosting season averaging career highs across the board with 10.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game while playing just 27.1 minutes per game. Iman Shumpert is coming off the bench for the Cavs, but his defensive play and ability to create plays have him as a very important piece to this Cavalier team. Shump is averaging 7.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in just 20.6 minutes per game.