NBA: 5 Players Cleveland Cavaliers Should Trade for to Build for Future
While the Cleveland Cavaliers sit only a game out of the Eastern Conference playoff race, no one should make the mistake of calling them a playoff contender just yet.
By that I mean, yes they could make the playoffs but unfortunately no they would not be much of a contender should they enter into a first round series against the Chicago Bulls or Miami Heat as evidenced by pitiful performances against both earlier in the year.
Because of this, the Cavaliers shouldn't be looking at adding "the final piece" at this years deadline but should instead be looking at younger players who could make a difference for them a couple of years down the road.
Here are five players who could help them continue their rise in the East for years to come.
Cole Aldrich, Oklahoma City Thunder
Aldrich is a 23-year-old former lottery pick who has seen little playing time on a talented Thunder squad.
His size is something the Cavs could desperately use. At 6'11" and 245 pounds Aldrich is a true center who is already an above average defensive player.
Looking deeper into his stats, given 36 minutes of play per night Aldrich would be averaging 12.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and an outstanding 2.9 blocked shots per game.
A team like the Thunder is looking to win now. A team like the Cavaliers is looking to win later. It would only make sense for the two to make a deal.
Nolan Smith, Portland Trail Blazers
Smith is a former Duke University standout who has been buried on the Blazers bench this season thus far.
Portland's first round pick in 2011 and former college teammate of Kyrie Irving, Smith could be a nice young backup to Irving should the Cavs end up trading Ramon Sessions.
In his senior year at Duke, Smith put up 20.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game and shot .800 percent for his four year career at the free throw line.
Combine his existing chemistry with Irving and the fact that he's only owed around $6 million over the next four seasons and he could be a nice pickup for the Cavaliers.
Robin Lopez, Phoenix Suns
Lopez is another back-up big with great size who could use a change of scenery and an increase in playing time.
The former Stanford standout is getting sporadic minutes in Phoenix currently, and for the year is chipping in 4.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.1 minutes of play.
Inflate these to starter minutes however, and those numbers go up to 13.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.
A legit 7-footer, he could provide the Cavs with a much needed body down low.
Another advantage of Robin Lopez in Cleveland? He gets to trade hair care tips with Anderson Varejao.
Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers
Bledsoe hasn't seen much playing time this season thanks to Chris Paul's arrival in LA, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve it.
The former Kentucky Wildcat and 1st round pick has shown flashes of brilliance at times and inconsistency at others, but is still just 22 years old.
The Clippers could be interested in the Cavs Ramon Sessions or Anthony Parker to help fill in for the injured Chauncey Billups to help them with a playoff run.
If the Cavs could add Bledsoe as a back-up to Irving, their point guard rotation could be set for years to come.
Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz
The veteran of this group at age 27, Jefferson is a great back to the basket center who can score, rebound and block shots with some of the best in the league.
In this, his 8th season, Jefferson is putting together a solid year with averages of 19.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
The only reason I believe the Cavs could make a play for Big Al is due to the crowded front court that the Utah Jazz possess with Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
Of those four, I believe Favors and Kanter would be virtually untouchable due to their youth and contract friendliness. Millsap is also a great bargain at around $8 million for this year and next.
Jefferson is the highest priced player of the four, with $15 million coming his way next season. Ideally the Cavaliers could extend him as their franchise center to put along with Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and 2012's first round pick.
If Utah decides it wants to create more playing time for their younger bigs, the Cavaliers would be wise to make a play for Jefferson.