Top Trade Targets for Cleveland Cavaliers Before Deadline
Sitting just three games out of the playoff race, expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to be very active near the 2014 trade deadline.
The Cavs, once thought to be headed towards yet another lottery, have suddenly come to life. Winners of four straight games, Cleveland will likely be buyers instead of sellers.
The Cavaliers could definitely use some upgrades for the final two months of the regular season.
Anderson Varejao is dinged up and has missed five of the last nine games. Finding some insurance at center, or someone new to take the job, should be near the top of the list. The Cavs could also use a small forward to build around for the future, should Luol Deng leave as a free agent this summer. Another veteran shooter/defender would be welcomed with open arms as well.
Looking at players that should become available, there are some good options out there.
Here are five of the best for Cleveland to pursue.
Chris Kaman, C, Los Angeles Lakers
New Role with Cavs: Anderson Varejao insurance
Kaman already seems comfortable in Cleveland, so why not invite him back?
Seriously though, the Cavs need some insurance at the center position that Kaman could provide. He's on a one-year deal worth about $3.2 million, so there's no financial harm in making a move for the 10-year vet.
The Lakers are headed for the lottery and have floated Kaman in and out of the rotation all season. Even getting a second-round pick for him at this point should be considered a success.
During the month of February, the Lakers have given Kaman a season-best 26 minutes a game. He's actually been very productive, averaging 18.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists this month. The Lakers must be looking to increase his trade value, because he's not really helping them win.
Cleveland should offer Alonzo Gee and one of their three 2014 second-round picks. He could start at center and give Varejao a break or come off the bench, allowing the Cavs to lessen Andy's minutes.
Either way, this would be a low-risk move that could help keep Varejao fresh.
Andre Miller, PG, Denver Nuggets
New Role with Cavs: Veteran pass-first point guard off bench
This would be fun, wouldn't it?
Nearly 12 years after trading Miller to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cavs could use the veteran point guard in their second unit.
Miller is 37, but he is still playing at a high level. That is, he was the last time he played. The Nuggets suspended Miller in December after a public confrontation with coach Brian Shaw.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports says that Miller has lost 12 pounds since the suspension and that he "does not want to stay with the Nuggets under any circumstances."
Cleveland needs a pass-first point guard to back up Kyrie Irving. Miller has averaged 13.6 points and 7.0 assists in his 15 years. The Cavaliers are just 27th in the NBA in assists and could use Miller's passing and leadership on their team.
The Nuggets owe Miller $5 million this year, but only $2 million of his contract next season is guaranteed. The Cavs could pick up Miller for a run this year and get out of the contract for minimal money if the reunion doesn't work.
Denver's backcourt has been banged up all season and desperately needs some stability. The Cavs should offer Jarrett Jack for Miller straight up. Jack has disappointed this season and is under contract for the next three years. If nothing else, Cleveland would save money in the deal.
Harrison Barnes, SF, Golden State Warriors
New Role with Cavs: Three-point threat, backup plan for Deng
Making a play for Barnes would have a lot to do with Luol Deng.
If the Cavs feel they stand a strong chance at convincing Deng to re-sign this summer, then giving up a lot for Barnes would be pointless. If they think Deng will walk, Barnes would be a nice acquisition to build around for future years.
For the season, Barnes is averaging 10.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in 29.2 minutes a game. Those numbers go up to 13.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 16 games as a starter.
The knock on Barnes has been his inability to create off the dribble. A whopping 95.6 percent of Barnes' three-point shots are assisted. He's also shooting a very impressive 40.9 percent from deep this season.
In other words, it's crucial that Barnes be on the floor with a good point guard that can set up his lethal outside shooting. Together with Kyrie Irving, Barnes would help spread the floor and bring some athleticism to the Cavs' starting lineup.
Golden State is still high on Barnes, but Cleveland has four first-round picks in the next two drafts to use as trade bait. The Warriors traded five total picks to the Utah Jazz last summer in a deal that landed them Andre Iguodala. One would think they'd love to get some back.
Barnes may not officially be on the trade block, but the Cavs should still ask about his availability.
Arron Afflalo, SG, Orlando Magic
New Role with Cavs: Starting shooting guard, three-point threat and defense
A guy that conventional wisdom says would be available is Afflalo, a great two-way guard for the tanking Orlando Magic.
He's a perfect trade candidate. A veteran who's starting over a high draft pick? Check. An affordable salary to take on? Check. Having a career year with a high sell value? You got it.
Afflalo is 28 and owed just $15 million over the next two years with a player option of $7.5 million in 2015-16. He's averaging 19.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 36.5 minutes a game.
Now in his seventh pro season, Afflalo has turned into one of the better wing defenders in the league. He can play both shooting guard and small forward and has shown the ability to guard both as well. According to 82games.com, Afflalo is holding opposing shooting guards and small forwards to PER's of 14.0 and 14.7, respectively. He's been consistently beating his man, posting PER's of 19.2 as a guard and 17.2 while at forward.
Putting Afflalo in the starting lineup would help the Cavs on both ends of the floor. He's knocking down 42.5 percent of his three-pointers this season, good for 10th in the NBA. His defense would help take pressure of Kyrie Irving in the backcourt.
Who knows what Orlando's asking price is for Afflalo at this point. Cleveland would have to include at least one first-round pick, but shouldn't be willing to give up their only one in 2014. Maybe a combination of Earl Clark's expiring deal, a prospect like Sergey Karasev and a 2015 first-rounder would get the conversation started.
Greg Monroe, C, Detroit Pistons
New Role with Cavs: Starting center for future
Please, David Griffin, make this happen.
Monroe is exactly what the Cavaliers need: a big man capable of creating his own low-post offense.
Monroe will be a restricted free agent this summer and will likely command around $12 million annually. Will the Pistons be willing to offer him this knowing Josh Smith is already making $13.5 million a year and Drummond will soon need an extension of his own?
David Aldridge of NBA.com says "If (Monroe's agent David) Falk finds a team ready to give Monroe the max or something close to it, expect Detroit to match the offer sheet and worry about the money later."
Since the Pistons were unable to negotiate a contract extension with Monroe before the season started, we're going to go ahead and assume there's hope. Monroe could come in and anchor Cleveland's starting center position for the next 10 years. He's currently putting up 14.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 31.8 minutes playing both power forward and center.
Would an offer of Anthony Bennett and a 2015 first-rounder be enough for the Pistons to reconsider their stance?
Cleveland should hope so, anyways.