Well, it’s that time of year again.
We’re less than 16 hours away from the trade deadline and rumors are flying all over the place. There are tons of active teams attempting to make a move to solidify their chances at making a push for the postseason and ideally, a run at the NBA championship.
In the past 24 hours, names of all kinds of marquee players have been floating about as the deadline draws near, including some Cavaliers.
Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert and most recently Anderson Varejao have been linked to a number of discussions as GM David Griffin and company try to bolster the Wine & Gold roster to become even more deadly than it already is.
But should a move be made? I’ve been pondering this question for quite some time now, and it’s something even I brought up after the Warriors came into Quicken Loans Arena and flat-out embarrassed Cleveland in front of a national audience.
So ask yourself: What do the Cavs need?
For one, a defensive-minded wing with the ability to score when needed is certainly a thought. Somebody to allow LeBron James a spell on the bench and be the focal point of the offense is a welcome thought, especially when the second unit is lacking production.
A perfect candidate that fits the mold is Trevor Ariza. He’s a veteran who’s been around the league a bit due to his inconsistent play, but in his past three seasons that has not been an issue.
Since Ariza’s second year with the Wizards, he’s been attempting at least six 3-pointers per game and shooting about 38 percent from deep. He’s also a talented defender, averaging a little under two steals per game in the past two seasons.
Ariza is able to stretch the floor and has versatility. In certain lineups, he can create mismatches if a team elects to play small ball by sliding to power forward. But ultimately, he’d provide a nice spark off of the bench for the Cavs.
Acquiring Ariza isn’t exactly out of question either (though the price could be decently costly), as the Rockets are fighting to stay afloat in a very crowded Western Conference — and they’re definitely not clicking the way they should be.
If he isn’t attainable, another player to look at is P.J. Tucker. Though less athletic and less trigger happy, Tucker is going nowhere with the Suns. Young talents such as Devin Booker and Archie Goodwin, as well as the recently-injured T.J. Warren, will most likely spell the end for the 30-year-old in Phoenix.
Tucker isn’t as flashy, but he’s a solid shooter from the corner and is gritty on the defensive side of things. He’s also a physical player, something this Cavs team is lacking and could use.
He’s shooting about 35 percent from the perimeter in his four-year career and averages a hair over a steal per game. This is a scenario I could see happening and it likely wouldn’t take much to pry him away from the desert.
Aside from maybe going out and getting an Ariza or Tucker, what else could the Cavs do?
Well, it’s obvious Timofey Mozgov’s time in Cleveland will come to a close sooner rather than later. David Blatt was a clear advocate of the 7-foot Russian when the Cavs’ acquired him last season, and it was for good reason. Mozgov was highly engaged, a presence underneath that Cleveland needed and for the most part, productive.
But this season has been disastrous for him from the start. Coming off of an offseason knee surgery, he just hasn’t been able to regain the confidence he had last year.
Whether it’s missing point-blank shots or the inability to catch passes, Mozgov just hasn’t been himself this year. Throw in the firing of Blatt mid-season and an adjustment to a brand new head coach that wants to push the pace and it doesn’t seem like the right fit for either party.
Mozgov also has an expiring contract, an asset that general managers around the league drool over. If there is a Cavalier that is shipped out, it wouldn’t be the least surprising if it was him.
Another name that’s come up in talks is Iman Shumpert.
Similar to Mozgov, Shumpert came into Cleveland and immediately made an impact. He was shooting at a high percentage and, most importantly, defense. His performance earned him a solid pay day with the Cavs, as he was signed to a four-year contract over the offseason.
Thus far, Shumpert’s season hasn’t been much different. He’s not providing as much production on offense, but his on-ball pressure has been superb, possibly even better than last year.
With all that being said, there was a report that surfaced a few days ago saying Shumpert’s passion may not all be there like it was before.
IF, and only if, there is truth to that, then he should be traded. The Cavs already have too many individuals on this team. Commitment is an essential piece to a team trying to win it all, and if that’s not there, it’s a distraction and becomes an issue. Cleveland doesn’t need any more distractions off of the court.
Finally, we address the elephant in the room: Kevin Love.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the man’s had his fair share of ups and downs with the Cavs. With a plethora of free agency rumors and speculation last season, Love was heavily distracted and didn’t perform up to par to some.
And once he did figure it all out, a shoulder injury took him out for the playoffs and he had to watch Cleveland fall to Golden State in The Finals.
After many had the thought that he may bolt in the offseason, Love signed a long-term deal to stay with the Cavs, ending all (well, most) conjecture.
When Kyrie Irving was out, Love had the chance to be a focal point of the offense and at some points lived up to his end of the bargain.
And then, Tyronn Lue came into the picture.
He immediately made his intentions known to get Love involved as a low-post threat rather than just use him as a stretch four on the perimeter, and so far it’s worked pretty well.
But it’s still not enough for Griffin and the Cavs, who have apparently made him available for the right offer and right return. In fact, they expect All-Star talent in exchange.
Yet I don’t see moving Love as the right move and frankly, don’t think one will happen. For once, we’ve seen what he can do with a fast-pace offense and it looks right. If he sticks down low in the post, he’ll be just fine.
So there you have it. If you’re the Cavs, is it really necessary to go out of your way to drastically re-shape a team that’s 38-14 and leading their respective conference?
To that, I say no.
Has it been pretty? I say no again. But you should expect that from a team that’s under a rookie head coach, regardless of talent. The Cavs are 8-3 since Lue took over. They are 38-14 and hold first place in the Eastern Conference. It’s comical that this is seen as a struggle.
A makeover of this team is completely and utterly unnecessary. If the Cavs go ahead and tweak the roster, so be it. The team could use that for sure.
And it’s not the end of the world if they don’t and stand pat. Don’t just make a move for the sake of making a move.
But if it’s a total overhaul, it may be something they will regret if a championship isn’t delivered immediately. You can count on it.