Channing Frye to Cavaliers in 3-Team Trade Involving Anderson Varejao

Joseph ZuckerFeatured Columnist

Orlando Magic’ Channing Frye plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

The Orlando Magic traded big man Channing Frye to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three-team trade involving the Portland Trail Blazers, Portland announced on Feb. 18.

Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao and a protected first-round pick went to Portland as part of the deal. The Magic will get a second-round pick and Jared Cunningham.

Sam Amick of USA Today initially reported the move.

Cavaliers general manager David Griffin released a statement on the trade:

Anderson is a special player, teammate and person. Few players have earned the respect, support and admiration of an entire organization, fan base and community as Andy did here. Those are all things that made this a difficult deal to do. At the same time, we have a deep obligation to do whatever we can to reach our ultimate goal and we believe this was a deal that improves our team now and positions us better in the future as well. We thank Andy for his hard work, dedication and contributions to the Cavaliers and our community and wish him and his wife, Marcelle, the very, very best.

Frye will make his Cavaliers debut on Monday, according to Chris Haynes of

The Vertical's Shams Charania reported that Portland waived guard Tim Frazier in order to accommodate Varejao's contract. It then also waived Varejao, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

“This was an opportunistic way to use our cap room to acquire a valuable asset,” Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in the announcement.

Sean Deveney of Sporting News first reported on Feb. 1 that the Magic were considering trading Frye following a dreadful 2-12 record over the month of January. Trading Tobias Harris to the Detroit Pistons also sent the message that the front office was looking to reshape the team.

Frye will join LeBron James and the Cavaliers, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. While the Cavs are already title contenders, they've shown they aren't afraid to make a move to put them in better position to win it all, having fired head coach David Blatt in the middle of the season.

This brings to an end a somewhat disappointing run for Frye in Orlando.

The Magic signed him to a four-year, $32 million deal in 2014 in order to add some space to the floor and balance out what was a young roster, and he provided mixed on-court returns.

In his first year with the team, Frye averaged 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per 36 minutes and shot 39.2 percent from the floor, all of which were career lows, per According to, the Magic had a minus-7.6 net rating with Frye on the court in 2014-15 compared to a minus-3.9 net rating when he was on the bench.

His rebounds are down a bit from his time with the Phoenix Suns, which is to be expected given that he is playing farther from the basket, but this year he has otherwise looked more like the player who warranted that contract a couple of years ago:

Channing Frye: Per-36 Averages, Advanced Stats
SeasonPoints/36 minsRebounds/36 minsFG%3P%TS%3PAr

Another positive for Frye is his value in the pick-and-roll—a trait he wasn't able to show off in Orlando. He owes part of his current salary to Goran Dragic, with whom he formed such a strong pick-and-roll partnership in Phoenix.

"If you have penetrators like Goran, there's no way the defense can stop the ball and get back to the shooter in time, especially with me because I'm almost 7'0" tall and have a pretty quick release," said Frye in March 2014, per Kirk Goldsberry, then of Grantland. "It's just a matter of who is doing what on the defense, and our offense making the decision from there."

Goldsberry also explained how Frye and Dragic were such a cohesive unit:

Frye has a gravitational pull that forces bigs away from the rim, creating attacking corridors for Dragic, who excels at "turning the corner," attacking the basket, and making plays. In turn, Dragic's attacking abilities create wide-open looks for Frye or other perimeter shooters. This symbiosis is the heart of the Suns' offensive ecosystem, and it is by no means an accident.

Expecting Frye to return to his peak years with the Suns or Portland Trail Blazers is unrealistic. For one, he won't have Dragic feeding him off the ball on pick-and-rolls. He's also into his early 30s, so his skills have started and will continue to decline.

As long as Cleveland plays to his offensive strengths, though, his improvement from last year to this year will likely continue.

Over the last week or so, it became clear that Cavs general manager David Griffin was looking to make at least one somewhat significant move.'s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst reported on Feb. 16 that Cleveland wasn't looking to move Kevin Love but that the team was at least open to the idea. On the same day, Wojnarowski reported the Cavaliers' interest in Frye, and Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears added that Ryan Anderson was in the mix too.

Between Frye and Anderson, the former is a much better fit for Cleveland, especially if Love isn't going anywhere. Anderson is more of a stretch 4 than Love, but their skill sets overlap in a number of areas.

Frye, meanwhile, can play the 5, which The Cauldron's Nate Duncan believes will help give the Cavs a potentially potent lineup:

Cleveland didn't need a radical overhaul, at least not before the trade deadline. The earliest Griffin should seriously consider trading Love is at the end of the season—if the idea is even worth entertaining.

It's tough to say whether Frye is the missing piece that will help the Cavaliers triumph in the NBA Finals, especially if they meet the Golden State Warriors. Frye makes the reigning Eastern Conference champions better, though, which is all fans could ask for ahead of the deadline.