In what looks to be the first of many moves before the NBA trade deadline, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby, and a protected first round pick from the Memphis Grizzlies for seldom-used Josh Leuer.
This is clearly a win for the Cavaliers in terms of sheer talent going from one team to another, but also benefits the Grizzlies, as they get closer to the tax line without breaking up their core four of Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley.
For Cleveland, this is simply taking advantage of an opportunity. Knowing Memphis was trying to slash payroll, the Cavs capitalized by acquiring several assets at little cost.
By getting Speights, Cleveland now has extra depth in their front court to replace Anderson Varejao, who is reportedly out for the season. While Speights is averaging just 6.6 PPG and 4.7 RPG for the season, he is also in a reduced role due to Memphis's depth at forward. His minutes are down to 14.5 MPG from 22.4 MPG last season, when he started 54 games. He will certainly have a larger role in Cleveland, and his numbers should bounce back to the 8.8 PPG and 6.2 RPG that he averaged last season.
The Cavs also get some backcourt depth by adding shooters Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby. Ellington has made a name for himself as a sharpshooter, hitting 42.3% of his three pointers this season.
While Selby has not played frequently in Memphis, he did impress in the NBA Summer League, as he was named the co-MVP after averaging 24.2 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.2 APG and 2.40 SPG to go along with a 55.7 FG% in 27.4 minutes through five games. Even more impressive, Selby shot 64.3% from three point range, adding another shooter to Cleveland's arsenal.
What do you think the Cavs should do when these new contracts expire?
More importantly, while this move clearly benefits the Cavaliers in the short term, it did nothing to sacrifice their long term rebuilding plans either.
In terms of cap room, Cleveland is in pretty much the same situation as they were before. Speights has a player option for next season at $4.52 million, which is a pretty affordable contract if he decides to exercise it. Ellington is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, and while Selby is under contract through 2014, he is still on his rookie contract, making just $762,195.
Depending on how these three play in Cleveland, the Cavs could decide to commit to them long term. Ellington (25), Speights (25) and Selby (21) are all young assets, fitting Cleveland's current rebuilding model. They could decide that these three fit well in within their future plans and extend them after their current contracts expire.
Conceivably, the Cavs could retain Ellington, who is a restricted free agent, and let Daniel Gibson, who is a similar player depart. They could also decide to let Speights and Ellington leave, getting even further under the cap and therefore having more money to spend on free agents.
They also obtain a draft pick, helping the team retool their roster with affordable young players.
In what seemed like a salary dump, the Cavs actually got some solid assets and now have plenty of flexibility in deciding what they want to do in the next few years.