Cleveland Cavaliers' 2014 Trade Deadline Shopping List
On a season that has ranged from frustrating to catastrophic, the likelihood of Cleveland regrouping for a playoff seed grows slimmer with each blowout loss. There's dysfunction at virtually every position and every organizational level—even the return of King James couldn't right this ship.
However, that doesn't mean the Cavs should stand pat with two weeks remaining. Omitting the obvious notions of sacking head coach Mike Brown and general manager Chris Grant, there's room for potential player movement here. Regardless of whether the team ultimately gambles for wins or the lottery, the present culture is in desperate need of a facelift if it wants to approach the future with any credibility.
The following are just a few options that should be up for consideration, ranging from "very likely" to "no chance in heck."
Unless otherwise noted, all stats provided by NBA.com and are current through Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Swapping Dion Waiters for Gary Neal
No matter what needs the Cavaliers consider addressing, moving Dion Waiters has to take precedence.
I won't bore you with a reiteration of the guard's transgressions on and off the court. His name is mentioned in virtually every trade rumor the Cavs allegedly entertain. Assuming he isn't moved in another package deal, per Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the Milwaukee Bucks could be a potential destination for the maligned 22-year-old.
It's hard to imagine Cleveland finding a worthwhile asset from a team that is by leaps and bounds the worst team in the league. However, the Bucks do have one player that they could swap for—the former San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter, Gary Neal.
Although the market has been quiet since news broke that Milwaukee was actively shopping the 29-year-old veteran, his pedigree and shooting ability are two assets that shouldn't be overlooked as of yet. Like Waiters, he's shown he can catch fire off the bench, especially from behind the three-point line—just check Game 3 of last season's 2013 NBA Finals.
Sure, a swap may seem a bit lopsided, but there are ways to make it worthwhile before Waiters' character issues plummet his stock even further.
For example, given the obvious upside gap between the two players, the Cavs have every right to demand at least another promising asset. A first-round pick in either of the next two drafts would do nicely, even if it's top-three or top-five protected.
Renewing Interest in Pau Gasol
While the latest chatter has Los Angeles Lakers big Pau Gasol potentially headed to the Phoenix Suns, until the deal is done in principle, the Cavaliers should be pushing as hard as they can to land the disgruntled Spaniard.
Yes, I know you're tired of hearing about Gasol. Quite frankly, so am I. But a healthy Gasol would still fit more team needs than the mismatch of movable parts that currently sit on the Cleveland roster. And, as Bleacher Report's D.J. Foster has already detailed, a trade is definitely possible, albeit risky—for both sides.
The keys to any scenario would be how both sides feel about a healthy (for now) Anderson Varejao and what draft picks the Cavs would be willing to include as a sweetener.
As it stands, having both Varejao and Tristan Thompson together presents the team with one of numerous roster redundancies. But Thompson has more upside, and Gasol, while occasionally miscast as a power forward, is a true center whose declining offensive polish would still offer Cleveland more than it's currently getting down low.
In the worst-case scenario, Gasol returns unhappy and unwilling to accommodate Mike Brown for a second time, and he walks away during the offseason, opening the door to more cap space possibilities. A risky move for sure, but given the fringe assets that would go into the hypothetical trade in the first place, it'd be no more risky than seeing, say, Luol Deng walk away in the same vein.
Moving in on Greg Monroe
If for some reason the Cavaliers can't make a move for Gasol, and they don't mind dealing with a division rival at least for the short-term, it might pay to inquire on the availability of the Detroit Pistons' Greg Monroe.
At the tender age of 23 and riding the tail end of his rookie deal, Monroe has been an unfortunate victim of failed circumstances.
To wit: Detroit's hyper-big lineup featuring small forward Josh Smith, Monroe, and center Andre Drummond has been bad. As in, really, really bad. But with Smith's exorbitant contract and Drummond's ludicrous potential, the highly skilled, high-character Monroe is, by default, the odd man out.
If you're Cleveland, you love the possibility of adding Monroe—if you can package a deal that works. Giving up Thompson in lieu of failing to move Varejao could work, but additional compensation in the form of short-term assets would again be required to sweeten the deal. Although, if the Cavs are willing to sacrifice a first rounder, it could be all that they need to give up in addition to Thompson to acquire one of the league's premier young, skilled bigs.
Rolling the Dice on Andre Miller
It's no secret that the Denver Nuggets' Andre Miller, once regarded as an iron man for his stout consistency, has found himself in head coach Brian Shaw's doghouse of late, despite injuries to Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson revving up the need for a reliable reserve point.
It's also no secret that the Cavaliers' Jarrett Jack, one year removed from his stint as Golden State's sixth-man wunderkind, has drastically underachieved considering the sizable four-year contract Grant offered him during the 2013 offseason.
Thankfully, this is another one of those straight-up exchanges that could ultimately prove beneficial to both parties.
While it's questionable whether Jack can be trusted with running an offense—he's averaging just 4.3 assists for his career—the Nuggets can't exactly choose to be picky, not when the offense craters as much as it does without Lawson or Robinson offering meaningful minutes.
They still have their trade exception from the Andre Iguodala deal, which means they can eat Jack's contract without impacting their cap room by much, and the improved pace should come more naturally to Jack compared to the daily slog he endures under Coach Brown.
On the other end, when content, Miller remains one of the game's most intelligent and intuitive playmakers. He'd most likely play in an even further reduced role behind Kyrie Irving, but there should be enough fuel in his 37-year-old body to account for 3-5 assists and a steal or two in limited doses.
At the very least, he could teach Irving a thing or two about passing.
Attempting to Deal Kyrie Irving
Time for the obligatory Kyrie Irving-related slide.
Let me say first and foremost that I don't think that Irving will be moving anytime soon and that all talk stating otherwise are just examples of extremism at work.
With that out of the way, considering all the negative publicity that Irving has produced, the Cavaliers’ front office would have to be insane to have not at least thought about shopping their lone All-Star. Through three seasons, Irving has yet to display an inkling of the type of leadership the Cavs desperately need from him.
By comparison, 2010 draftee and Indiana Pacers forward Paul George led his team to the cusp of the NBA Finals in his third season. You are who you are, and to continually excuse Irving is just irresponsible.
There is a very real concern that the 21-year-old could jump ship given the opportunity. Should negotiations for an extension go awry, Cleveland will need to act fast.
But the question remains, for all the opinions that talking heads have been sputtering, what would a trade involving Irving even look like? Nearly every team in the league has already invested in a point guard of its own, and those that aren't lack the requisite assets.