BY SAM AMICO
Random dribbles on the latest happenings with the Cavaliers:
1. Rakeem Christmas wasn’t going to play for the Cavs and he probably won’t play much for the Pacers, either. The Cavs traded the second-round pick to Indiana on Thursday. In exchange, the Cavs received a 2019 second-rounder.
2. My analysis: It was the trade of a present long shot (Christmas) for a future long shot (the 2019 second-rounder). It would be stunning if either Christmas or the 2019 guy makes any sort of contribution.
3. Of course, Pacers president Larry Bird did say he really liked Christmas during Christmas’ pre-draft workout with the team. Bird tends to prefers players who have stayed in school all four years. And being older can indeed help a guy be more prepared for the rigors of the NBA. “We look forward to having him,” Bird said.
4. From the Cavs’ end, this was a deal that was supposedly made to help move the contract of Brendan Haywood. How trading Christmas helps in that area is beyond me. I don’t really know or care. I just know the Cavs aren’t having the type of luck originally hoped for when it comes to trading Haywood.
5. The Trail Blazers, Sixers and Jazz are listed as possible suitors for Haywood. The Cavs need to trade Haywood by Aug. 1 or the $10.5 million contract becomes guaranteed. As for getting an actual player in return — well, it looks like that possibility no longer exists. Instead, the Cavs can get a trade exception. Those are more valuable during the season. Good. Who cares what you do in July?
6. For instance, look at the difference between the Cavs when they entered training camp and at the end of last season. Their best and biggest moves were made in January — when GM David Griffin traded for Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov. Read: Teams don’t panic over their rosters until the February trading deadline, if at all.
7. The Cavs actually didn’t need to do a thing with their roster. Here is really all they need: For LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to stay healthy at the same time. If that happens, I don’t care what else they do. They will have a better shot at winning the title than anyone.
8. If they don’t all stay healthy, again, it doesn’t matter. The Cavs can’t align their roster with an endless supply of All-Stars or young guys. They need their Big 3 to stay healthy. Period. All analysis outside of that is needless nit-picking.
9. It sounds as if J.R. Smith will re-sign with the Cavs soon. I suspect it will happen in early August, shortly after the Haywood situation is resolved. Smith will be getting a smaller contract than the one he just opted out of (one year and about $6.4 million). It will more likely be for $5 million next season, then maybe another $5 mil with maybe a team option for the year after that.
11. At this point, the Cavs should just let Thompson and Dellavedova explore the market, then match whatever they receive. Or at least match any offer to Thompson. I have a feeling neither Thompson nor Delly will get the type of money from other teams that the Cavs are offering.
12. That possibility works in the Cavs’ favor during negotiations with both players. So no need for the Cavs to rush into signing either. Let the market determine their value.
13. The Cavs also signed Richard Jefferson to a veteran-minimum contract earlier this week. Given their salary-cap situation (read: not good), I liked this move. Yes, Jefferson just turned 35 years old. No, he hasn’t averaged more than 11 points since 2010. But he gives the Cavs two things — a competent backup behind James and a reliable 3-point shooter.
14. I like that Jefferson has played in two Finals series (back in 2002 and ’03 with the Nets). Mostly, I like how he can still bury those threes. He shot 43 percent on 3-pointers last season with the Mavericks, and 41 percent the year before that with the Jazz. Even if that declines to 37 or 38 percent with the Cavs, Jefferson should still offer a nice boost off the bench.
15. Same goes for Mo Williams. He has spent his entire career as a hot-and-cold, streaky player — perfect for coming off the bench. He can play either guard position and score in a flurry. When Williams is hot, he’s really hot. The Cavs will undoubtedly benefit from those moments.
16. Finally, I expect the Cavs to take a long look at some younger guys in training camp. They were impressed with second-round pick Sir’Dominic Pointer in summer league. He showed a strong ability to defend the wing — and outside of possessing an awful perimeter shot, Pointer is a well-rounded player. Also watch out for shooting guard Tyler Haws and point guard Keifer Sykes. Both are undrafted rookies and impressed scouts across the league.