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With trade winds beginning to blow with some gusto, two things mentioned most often in terms of what could help the Cleveland Cavaliers and what they be casting a net for are a 3-and-D wing player and a big guy.
That having been said, how do Wesley Matthews and Nerlens Noel grab you, Cavalier fans?
With both Matthews, 31, and Noel, 23, headed to unrestricted free agency after this season, the Dallas Mavericks are said to be open to receiving offers for both.
Nate Duncan reported on his Dunc’d On NBA Podcast that both Matthews and Noel would be good fits for the struggling Cavaliers (26-16).
Matthews certainly fits the bill as a 3-and-D guy. A 6-foot-5, 220-pound swingman, he has the size, toughness, shooting ability and all-around floor game, especially as a solid wing defender who can space the floor with his 3-point ability, to help a contender.
The 6-11, 228-pound Noel remains sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. He is expected to return in February.
Noel has a no-trade clause in his contract, but would all but assuredly waive it for an opportunity to play for a team such as Cleveland.
As Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype points out, only Jayson Tatum (1.20) and Tobias Harris (1.18) are in front of Matthews this season in the NBA terms of most points per possession (1.17 PPP) on spot-up plays. Coincidentally, the Cavaliers score more efficiently on that type of play than anyone else in the league.
Further, the 31-year-old Matthews is shooting at a 39.7 percent clip on catch-and-shoot attempts this season, the sixth-best mark in the NBA for those with enough chances. The Cavaliers rank in the top five in the NBA in taking that type of shot.
On the season, Matthews, out of Marquette University, is averaging 12.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 34.3 minutes per game for the Mavericks, while shooting 38.4 percent from 3 and 81.5 percent from the free-throw line. He has started 42 of the 43 games he’s played for the Mavericks this season.
Noel has played but 18 games for Dallas this season, starting six. He was averaging 4.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game. Prior to injury his thumb, the University of Kentucky product had fallen out of coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation.
Of course, salaries are a big part of any trade. Matthews is making $17,884,176 this season and has a player option for 2018-19 which calls for him to be paid $18,622,514. Noel is earning $4,187,599 this season.
Kalbrosky pointed out a deal sending J.R. Smith, Channing Frye and Cedi Osman to Dallas in exchange for Matthews and Noel works in terms of making the money work.
Would the Cavaliers consider such a swap?
After all, Matthews would be a definite upgrade on what they are receiving from Smith this season and Noel, despite riding the pine in Dallas before he was injured, still carries career averages of 9.5 points, 7.2 board, 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocked shots in 26.3 minutes per game, shooting 52.1 percent from the floor.
A 3-and-D guy and a young rim protector. What’s not to like, if you are the Cavaliers? Surrendering Osman would hurt, but the future is most definitely now in Cleveland.
How about the Mavericks? Would receiving a promising, young, highly active wing in Osman as the centerpiece of a deal be enough to move two guys who they are going to most likely lose to free agency next summer? Would Dallas demand a draft choice to seal the deal?
As always, stay tuned.
The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 8.