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Random dribbles on the Cavaliers, with the NBA trade deadline clearly serving as the highlight of the season.
1. What are the odds that shooting guard Alec Burks and small forward Rodney Hood will be traded before Feb. 7? Well, it seems like Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman intends to find out.
2. Nothing against Burks and Hood. The Cavs are also open to keeping both. By exploring trades, the front office is merely doing its job. And Burks and Hood should feel good, knowing other teams are indeed interested.
3. Burks is “95 percent tradeable,” according to an anonymous source quoted by Houston-based reporter Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Makes sense, as Burks’ $11.5 million contract expires at season’s end.
4. Still, an opposing scout told Ilko that “Burks has been inefficient this year.”
5. OK, so what about Hood? He’s been inconsistent since arriving in Cleveland via trade last February. At times, he’s shown flashes of real smoothness and scoring ability. At others, you forget he’s even on the floor.
6. The opposing scout to Ilko on Hood: “Lacks toughness, not sure he wants to guard.”
7. Hood’s cap-friendly contract of around $3.4 million also expires at season’s end. It should be noted, though, that Hood is playing on a qualifying offer and can therefore veto a trade.
8. The Cavs are seeking a player (for salary purposes) and draft picks for Burks. The Boston Celtics have expressed interest — and they have three first-round picks. I can’t imagine them parting with a first-rounder for Burks. (But I can imagine the Celtics saving all three picks to make a run at New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis over the summer.)
9. The Los Angeles Clippers are at least one team keeping an eye on Hood. I’ve recently heard of interest from the Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors and, yes, Golden State Warriors, too.
10. Again, along with draft picks, the Cavs are in search of players with “bad” multiyear contracts belonging to players who could be traded later, as well as younger players with promise, as noted by Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
11. Keep an eye on the San Antonio Spurs. They have two first-rounders — their own and Toronto’s. They have an interest in Cavs center Tristan Thompson, though a deal would be tough given Thompson’s salary. He is owed $17.5 million this season and $18.5 million next.
12. The Spurs may also have an interest in Burks.
13. Back to Thompson. As I’ve already written, the Cavs are in no hurry to trade him. Just the opposite. He has been a pro in every facet this season, both on and off the court. He has said he wants to stay in Cleveland. But Thompson has made himself awfully desirable to contenders.
14. Opposing teams also like some of the Cavaliers’ younger players, such as swingman Cedi Osman and center Ante Zizic. Spark-plug reserve Jordan Clarkson is also on a few teams’ radar. That said, it wouldn’t make sense to move any of them for what the Cavs would likely get in return.
15. Meanwhile, reserve point guard Cameron Payne has done a nice job, but it’s hard to envision the Cavs keeping him beyond his second 10-day contract. They could probably use the extra roster spot at the trade deadline. Payne was signed to the second 10-day deal six days ago. If the Cavs sign him again, it will have to be for the rest of the season.
16. Finally, it appears exiled guard J.R. Smith may be somewhere closer to accepting a buyout after the trade deadline, after all. He has been working out and wants to play. Teams such as the Rockets and Warriors may be willing to give Smith a shot, but his large contract just won’t allow it to happen in a trade.