Spencer Hawes Trade Shows Cleveland Cavs Are All In for Better or Worse

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2014

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 2: Spencer Hawes #00 of the Philadelphia 76ers in a game against the Sacramento Kings on January 2, 2014 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Like it or not, the Cleveland Cavaliers remain all in on a 2013-14 season mired in ups and downs and near-unmatchable dysfunction.

If that much wasn't clear before, when the Cavs acquired Luol Deng's expiring contract from the Chicago Bulls, it's abundantly apparent now that they've landed Spencer Hawes from the Philadelphia 76ers.

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news:

CBS Sports' Ken Berger then confirmed the trade:

Per Woj and NBA.com's David Aldridge, Hawes seemingly didn't cost Cleveland much:

The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer and Jodie Valade added that center Henry Sims is gone as well:

I say "seemingly" because second-round draft picks typically are viewed as worthless forage, despite Manu Ginobili's, Marc Gasol's and Chandler Parsons' and others' attempts to prove otherwise.

Two second-round picks is also a stark concession on Philly's behalf. The Sixers, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, initially sought a first-rounder in return for Hawes' expiring contract. In that sense, the Cavs landed Hawes—who is averaging 13 points and 8.5 rebounds on 45.1 percent shooting per game—at a steep discount. 

For Cleveland, though, it's not a bargain. Not really. It's more of a harbinger of desperation and determination.

The Cavs already dealt away a throng of draft picks to Chicago, in addition to Andrew Bynum's non-guaranteed contract. Per the official Jan. 7 Bulls press release, those selections included "a future draft pick via the Sacramento Kings (Sacramento’s conditional regular first round selection in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 otherwise, Sacramento’s 2017 regular second round pick if it falls between 31-55)." This is accompanied by two future second-rounders and the ability for Chicago to switch first-round picks with the Cavs in 2015, if Cleveland doesn't finish in the lottery.

Factor in the two second-rounders Cleveland just sent to Philly, and that's a lot of draft picks—a helluva lot of draft picks.

Rebuilding teams or contingents prepared to throw in the towel don't fleece themselves of that many intangible assets. These types of moves are reserved for those ready to win now

More than anything, this is Cleveland pushing more of its chips into this season's proverbial pot.

Even after winning six straight games, the Cavs are still three games outside the Eastern Conference's playoff picture. All along, their goal has been to make the playoffs. That's why they brought in Bynum. That's why they then pulled the plug on the Bynum experiment and traded for Deng. And that's why they're bringing in Hawes now. 

The 7'1", 245-pound Hawes doesn't fill any immediate needs. Anderson Varejao's game status will forever be listed as "maybe, we hope," but the Cavs have enough size in Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson to get by. 

Bear in mind that Hawes doesn't fit the mold for a traditional big man, either. He's a solid rebounder and can block the occasional shot, but he's not a defensive stopper or double-double machine. 

Cleveland is all in on Irving and Deng, and now Hawes.
Cleveland is all in on Irving and Deng, and now Hawes.David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

That isn't to say he can't help. Cleveland is borderline atrocious on both ends of the floor, but it needs more help on the offensive side of things, where it ranks 24th in efficiency

Where Cleveland really has struggled is in spacing the floor.

Paint-clogging presences abound on the roster. Stretch forwards basically don't exist, and the Cavs have two ball-dominant guards in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, the former of which is most effective when he's able to attack the basket in conjunction with his outside game, and the latter of which doesn't have an outside game.

Hawes is shooting a career-best 39.9 percent from deep this season, bolstering the shooting of a team that ranks 16th in three-point conversion rate (35.6 percent). When he's on the floor, driving lanes should open up, making it easier for the Cavs to capitalize off the double-teams Irving draws.

Will his arrival spark a playoff run? 

Does that even really matter?

This isn't so much about the impact Hawes can have as it is about what his arrival represents. 

The Cavs aren't giving up on this season. Firing general manager Chris Grant could have been the start of another rebuild, a new beginning for a seemingly lottery-fated team. But instead of blowing up the roster and starting over, the Cavs went for a modest power play.

If they're to make a fourth-straight lottery appearance, and if they're going down, they're going down swinging and shooting, unloading valuable intangible assets for the chance to salvage an increasingly baffling and disappointing season.

All-in endeavors don't get much more blatant or much more obvious than this. 

"I don’t see how you get better and win more games selling," interim GM David Griffin told The News-Herald's Bob Finnan earlier this month. "We’re going to buy to the extent that it makes us better for the long haul. We are dedicated 100 percent from top to bottom to getting better and that's what we're going to do."

Half true to his word, Griffin didn't sell the Cavs' future. But he didn't make long-term improvements, either. Earl Clark's contract was non-guaranteed next season, and Hawes, like Deng, can leave in free agency.

Acquiring Hawes is about here and now, and right here, right now, the Cavs are playoffs or bust, more than they've ever been before.