Chris Grant is going to have a lot of work to do if he is going to try and get enough talent around Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson in time to fulfill Dan Gilbert's promise to capture an NBA championship before LeBron James.
I think we all know who the top-three most valuable trade assets are, Anderson Varejao, Antawn Jamison and Baron Davis. But which one of these players is the Cavs' most valuable trade option?
On a grade scale, I have ranked them on the attractiveness of their respective contracts, as well as their offensive and defensive production.
The average of these grades, combined with what type of team would pull the trigger on the deal, will decide who is the most valuable trade asset.
If you read my article about why the Cavs should keep him, you would know that the “Wild Thing” contributes more than just stats. The sad part about it is, after reading the comments and my own article again, I accidentally convinced myself that the Cavs might actually have to trade him in order to properly rebuild. Not only would trading him be good for both parties, it could yield the right building blocks to our future as a team.
Offense (9.1 points per game, 1.5 assists per game)
Anderson Varejao made a decent impact on offense last year before he was injured. These stats are not eye-popping, however, they're not too shabby either. For this he gains a C+.
Defense (9.7 rebounds per game, 1.2 blocks per game)
Everyone knows that Anderson Varejao is a force on the defensive end with 9.7 RPG and 1.2 BPG. For his combination of hustle and grit, this 2009-2010 All-NBA Defensive second-team member earns himself an A on the defense portion of this test.
This can either be Andy's greatest asset or his biggest downfall. Varejao is locked up in a $7 million contract next year which grows to $9.8 million by the 2014-15 season, with a team option. This all depends on how long the team is looking to hold on to him. For this he receives a C+.
I can think of a few teams that would want a player like Varejao. If Tyson Chandler of the Mavericks does indeed choose to leave via the free agency, Varejao would be a similar and cheaper option. Also, I think that if Andy had not been injured, the Thunder would have pulled the trigger on a Varejao trade rather than the Perkins trade they had to settle for. For the types of teams that would want him, Andy earns a B.
Antawn Jamison is a player with great character and was a leader on a team that struggled to gain the second-worst record in the league last year. This will not be overlooked by rebuilding teams that could use his leadership for a bit and then dump his contract.
Offense (18 PPG, 1.7 APG)
NBA experts say there is one thing that doesn't wear down with age, the jump shot. That fact has let Antawn Jamison lead the Cavs in scoring with a very respectable 18 PPG. This is a stat that many teams will take a long hard look at, and for that he gains an A.
Defense (6.7 RPG, .5 BPG)
If there is one thing that Antawn Jamison is not known for it is his defense. He's not horrible at defense and can match up against the lesser power forwards in the league, but besides that he really has nothing going for him in this category. For that he earns a C-.
The teams that will try and secure him will be those looking at his $15 million contract that expires after the 2011-2012 season, so they themselves can look to become title contenders. This earns Jamison an A.
This is a rather precarious predicament for Antawn. He can either end up with a contender in need of some scoring, which is unlikely considering how strapped for cap room most contenders are, or another lottery team that will try and secure him, looking at his 15 million dollar contract that expires after the 2011-2012 season. For having a very large and soon expiring contract he earns an A.
Baron Davis is an interesting character that perennially shows up to training camp out of shape. But last year for the Cavs he showed, dare I say, flashes of really good leadership. Davis took being dealt to a team without Blake Griffin like a champ and that is not something to be overlooked. Could he come to camp ready to fight for the starting position with Kyrie Irving? Either way, he'll be in shape by the trade deadline this year and Grant will definitely be shopping him.
Offense (13.9 PPG, 6.1 APG)
In Baron's 10 games that he played with the Cavaliers, he averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 assists per game on a team without a lot of options. For this he earns a B.
Defense ( 2.4 RPG, 1.1 steals per game)
Baron Davis is not a slouch on defense, however he doesn't particularly excel at it either. His 1.1 SPG while with the Cavs is not bad, nor is it particularly good. For this he earns a C.
Davis' Contract is one of the most important aspects of his value. He has a large contract that expires after the 2012-2013 season. This is a short length, high volume contract that will be attractive to rebuilding teams. Because this contract is so large and lasts only two years, he earns a B.
A team that wants a serviceable point guard but also wants to make an investment in Davis's $15 million contract that expires after the 2012/2013 season. The only problem I see with his contract is that it doesn't expire for another year.
Now, if the lockout does take out this whole season and the receiving team only has to absorb a year of this large contract, he will be worth way more than he is now. However, if the lockout ends soon, like I hope it will, teams will look to how he became a leader on a struggling team and they will pull the trigger on his two-year contract. Because the contract doesn't expire immediately, and because of the high price Baron commands, he only earns a B.
Who is the Cavaliers' most valuable trade asset? With both Varejao and Jamison each averaging an A, we have a tie. The tie breaker will come down to contract and character. Antawn Jamison's combination of both means that every team in the league, from rebuilding teams looking to relieve cap space, to playoff hopefuls looking to find a little extra offensive punch, will look to Jamison. While Andy doesn't have any character issues to speak of, his real value is only going to be on a playoff team looking for defense, which means the amount of potential candidates is going to be lower than those vying for Jamison's services.
There you have it, the most valuable trade asset for the Cleveland Cavaliers is Antawn Jamison. Let me know if you think I made the right decision in the comments.