Despite outstanding play from point guard Kyrie Irving, it's been another disappointing season for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
At 14-34, the team is currently last in the Central Division, and 13th overall in the East.
But there's hope for the future. Irving's 24.0 points per game breakout helps, as does the near double-double play of forward Tristan Thompson.
Cleveland continues to build toward the future, and is currently one of the hottest teams to trade with in the NBA.
The Cavaliers have plenty of cap space, and a slew of expiring contracts. They've already played facilitator to the Rudy Gay trade and could play a similar role in future deals before the February 21 deadline.
With the team in perfect position to build toward the future, here's a look at some of the rumors surrounding Cleveland this February.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7:11 p.m. ET by Dan Talintyre
Steve Kyler from Hoopsworld.com reports that Omri Casspi is looking like being traded before trade deadline kicks in, with Cleveland trying to get the best possible deal for the forward.
The long-running dysfunction between Cavs forward Omri Casspi and the Cleveland Cavaliers may be coming to an end as the Cavs have been talking deals that involve Casspi in advance of Thursdays 3pm EST Traded Deadline.
The problem for Cleveland is that Casspi isn’t exactly viewed as a stud in waiting and there isn’t a ton of interest in him. Sources close to the process peg the San Antonio Spurs has a good fit and a team that has expressed some interest in Casspi, the problem is they won’t offer much for him. If the Cavs would do a DeJuan Blair based deal, the Cavs could find a taker on Casspi fairly quick.
Marreese Speights is also reportedly being touted in trade talks.
The Cavs also are entertaining deals involving recently acquired Marreese Speights whom they acquired from Memphis in late January. Speights is contract is worth some $4.2 million this season and has a $4.51 million Player Option next season.
The Cavs are under the salary cap so they can combine Speights with another player to make a bigger deal and it seems that a Speights/Casspi package is what Cleveland is trying to move. Combined the two players represent $6.47 million in outgoing salary, which could put Cleveland in the game for a fairly decent player in return.
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While not as interesting as the news that it'd like to move Speights, it's also worth noting that Cleveland is shopping guards Omri Casspi and Daniel Gibson.
In the same ESPN article, Marc Stein reports:
Daniel Gibson and Omri Casspi, according to NBA front-office sources, are the most likely Cavs to be dealt along with Speights...
Casspi was acquired from the Kings in return for J.J. Hickson in 2011. While he's not a game changer, he can provide valuable scoring off the bench—he's a career 35.7 percent shooter from three-point range.
Gibson could also add scoring punch to any team. He's averaged 8.0 points and 23.8 minutes per game in his career and is a lifetime 41.3 percent shooter from beyond the arc.
Alone, neither player offers a ton of return. But combined with one another—or Speights—and the Cavs could work a pretty favorable trade.
Marreese Speights has played in just a handful of games for the Cavaliers, and already the organization is looking at sending him off.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 8:40 p.m. ET by Ethan Grant
Although Speights remains a popular name to be moved before the trade deadline, he's insisting that he wants to stay in Cleveland for the long haul.
At least, that's the sentiments he holds during a recent interview with HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy. Speights notes that he's the one who had to sign off on a potential trade from Memphis to Cleveland because he held his own Bird rights; he could have vetoed any deal:
A lot of people don’t know that I’m the one who signed off on getting traded, Speights said. “I came here because I knew they had a young team, great city and great fans. I always wanted to be here.
It appears Speights will remain on the block for now, but don't be surprised if potential extension talks emerge if he stays in town and keeps playing the way he has since being traded from the Grizzlies.
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Speights was recently acquired by the Cavs. Since then, he's averaged 15.4 points and 6.8 rebounds a game off Cleveland's bench.
Per ESPN's Marc Stein, he had this to say about Speights' situation in Cleveland:
Don't be shocked if the Cavaliers decide to move Speights on again before the Feb. 21 deadline.
The Cavs obviously aren't in the playoff hunt and word is they're already receiving interest in Speights, who possesses a $4.5 million player option for next season. The Cavs are also armed with $12 million in expiring contracts and roughly $4 million in leftover cap space for the summer, which means they've got the tools to continue to be active before this deadline.
It makes total sense that Cleveland would move Speights.
He's not going to help them this year, and it makes sense to continue starting rookie Tyler Zeller, who has shown flashes at times.
And with plenty of teams that could use size off the bench, Cleveland can continue to stock pile building blocks for the future—whether that be cap space or draft picks.
Despite the team's shopping of Speights, it seems Cleveland is still looking to build some depth under the basket. In order to do so, the Cavs have turned their attention toward a rehabbing Greg Oden.
UPDATE: Friday, Feb. 8, at 7:11 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway
The Cavs are expected to offer free agent center Greg Oden a two-year contract with a team option for a third year after the Feb. 21 trade deadline passes, a league source said. The Cavs have about $4 million in cap space, which they are preserving now for potential trades. Teams around the league don't want to sign Oden until after the trade deadline.
That's obviously a sensible approach to take. Oden is completely free of restraints for the first time in his young career, so waiting a couple weeks for a formal offer won't play any part in his decision. If he wants to go to Cleveland, he'll wait until after the deadline and make it happen.
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UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 8:40 p.m. ET by Ethan Grant
Fox Sports' Chris Tomasson reported on Twitter that he wouldn't be surprised if Cleveland has already had preliminary discussions with the injury-plagued center:
Wouldn't be surprised if Greg Oden already has met with Cleveland Cavaliers officials. sulia.com/my_thoughts/cd…— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) February 7, 2013
He continues those thoughts on Sulia, as an interview with Oden's agent Mike Conley, Sr. led him to believe that since the comeback attempt has already led for Oden to meet with the Boston Celtics, that the realm of possibility for other teams involved should include the Cavs—his home-state team.
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Oden—who has been out of the league since 2009 due to a slew of knee injuries and setbacks—is attempting a return to the court.
Oden has very strong ties to the Midwest, and it makes sense that he could choose to return. The 25-year-old spent his time in college at Ohio State, and he is currently rehabbing in Indianapolis and Columbus.
With as much cap space as it has, a move like this would be low risk-high reward for Cleveland.
The team needs depth at center, and a returning Oden would provide that. Even with limited playing time, the big man could be a franchise piece moving forward—depending on the level at which he returns.
It might sound crazy, but this is definitely a move worth making for Cleveland.
In the article, Wojnarowski discusses LeBron's ties to his agent Rich Paul, who grew up with James in Cleveland. According to the article, Paul:
...has been privately telling people for two years of his intrigue with bringing the prodigal son back as the conquering hero in Cleveland.
Wojnarowski also uses the recent Rudy Gay trade as evidence that the "Big Three" era is coming to an end in the NBA, which will ultimately affect James' decision to move on from Miami.
But the most interesting tidbit of all from the article might be this one:
James has been thinking about a return to Cleveland for most of his time with the Heat, including the night of his cable TV special. He had second-guessed himself that night...
If that's true, then the door is definitely open for a LeBron James return to Cleveland. Playing alongside Kyrie Irving, the Cavs would surely be a force.
If Cleveland (the team and the city) would accept the superstar back with open arms is another issue that's yet to be tackled.