Cavaliers Rumors: Jameer Nelson Should Be Cleveland's Top Trade Deadline Target

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 18, 2015

Denver Nuggets' Jameer Nelson in action during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Cleveland Cavaliers overhauled their roster for the 2014-15 NBA season before it tipped off, and they have swung a couple of big trades during the year as it is.

They shouldn't be huge players prior to Thursday's trade deadline, but one move they should consider involves making a play for Denver Nuggets point guard Jameer Nelson. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reports that the Cavs have targeted the 33-year-old past All-Star:

They've been offering around Brendan Haywood, who has a unique contract that could make him a trade asset next summer because he has a $10 million non-guaranteed deal perfect for flipping. One player they've targeted is the Denver Nuggets' veteran, Jameer Nelson, who has already been traded twice this season.

Windhorst's main message suggests Cleveland needs another big man to fill out its frontcourt rotation after its loss to the Chicago Bulls just before the All-Star break.

This is a bit of a "prisoner of the moment" phenomenon. CBS Cleveland's Daryl Ruiter notes how well the Cavs were playing otherwise before they went back-to-back to take on the Bulls on the road:

Daryl Ruiter @RuiterWrongFAN

#Cavs followed a 6-game slide by winning 14 of 16 before AS break; own 2-1 series lead on #Bulls this season so not worried about 1 game

Nelson has already been traded twice this year, first from Dallas to Boston and then from the Celtics to Denver. Another move might not be ideal for him—unless he'd have a chance to compete for a championship, rather than languish with a dysfunctional Nuggets team.

Cavs' star point guard Kyrie Irving doesn't have a capable backup nor a true mentor at his position. Those are roles Nelson could fill in a big way, and Nelson would also help with spacing thanks to his outside shooting prowess.

Speaking of which, Ray Allen could still rejoin his former Miami Heat teammate in LeBron James, who's met with Allen as recently as January. However, the face of the Cleveland franchise seems at peace with whatever Allen decides, via the NBA on ESPN:

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Ray Allen and LeBron James could reunite in Cleveland if Allen makes that decision http://t.co/c9qsYpyPUC

For a Cavs team that lacks a lot of postseason experience—and features two big pieces in Irving and Kevin Love who haven't won anything in the NBA—it's key to have players who've been on the big stage before.

That's what Nelson brings as a prospective trade option, rather than banking on Allen's uncertain return:

Although the Orlando Magic made the NBA Finals when Nelson was nursing a torn labrum for all but the final stage of the postseason, it was also the year in which he received his only All-Star bid.

The Cavs' frontcourt is fine. Trading two first-round picks to land Timofey Mozgov ensured that, and his prior association with Cleveland head coach David Blatt helped him transition in seamless fashion. Between Mozgov, Love and Tristan Thompson, there's enough diversity and depth up front for the Cavs to get by.

What's necessary at this point is winning, veteran experience—wherever the Cavs can get it. Nelson was nursing an Achilles injury heading into the All-Star break, but he's had time to heal. His locker room presence for morale and for Irving would be important above what he'd bring to the court.

But Nelson's value could be big in that regard as well. Despite his shooting numbers being down, Nelson has been stupendous as a distributor coming off the bench for Boston and Denver. In 15 games, he's assisted on 41.7 percent of baskets, per NBA.com.

While Cleveland ought to be big players in the Allen sweepstakes, Nelson is the one trade option general manager David Griffin should be pushing for. The compensation asked in return will be minimal, and the return on the minute investment has massive upside.

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