5 Players the Cleveland Cavaliers Should Target with Their New Trade Exceptions
With virtually no money left to improve their team, the Cleveland Cavaliers have once again turned to the trade market.
The Cavs recently sent seldom-used center Brendan Haywood and guard Mike Miller to the Portland Trail Blazers, along with two future second-round picks, all for the chance to pick up a pair of trade exceptions (via Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group).
Since Cleveland is well over the salary cap, these exceptions will allow them to trade for players for one calendar year without having to send back matching salaries.
Haywood's exception is valued at $10.5 million while Miller's is worth $2.85 million. The Cavaliers can use them to deal for any combination of players so long as the total salaries are at or below either value.
Cleveland used this same strategy to trade for Timofey Mozgov last season, also sending two first-round draft picks to the Denver Nuggets to sweeten the deal. Now, with few picks left, the Cavs will have to get more creative in finding players to help, including high-priced veterans on rebuilding teams.
Don't expect the Cavaliers to go searching for help immediately, however. Cleveland would be wise to wait until closer to the trade deadline, when teams start to fall out of contention and look to cut costs.
While none of the following will have a Mozgov-like impact, all could help provide valuable insurance for the Cavaliers this season.
Danny Granger, F, Detroit Pistons
2015-16 Salary/Exception: $2,170,465 (Miller)
How He Fits:
Granger has long been a positive locker room presence, even after knee issues plagued his career.
Now, the 32-year-old is strictly becoming a three-point specialist. In 30 games with the Miami Heat last season, over half of his total shot attempts came from beyond the arc.
Cleveland could use Granger as extra insurance along with Richard Jefferson to help make up for the losses of forwards Shawn Marion and Miller.
While his 35.7 percent success rate from deep was a nice start, Granger was especially good when lined up in the corners, connecting on 40.0 percent. At 6'9", the Cavs could also use him as a stretch 4 in smaller lineups.
At this point, it's unclear whether Granger will even start the season on the Detroit Pistons' roster. Traded in a cap-clearing move by the Phoenix Suns this summer, Granger doesn't appear to fit on a rebuilding Detroit team.
"But the Pistons don’t know the path for Granger, who has battled health issues since reaching the All-Star Game in 2009," writes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. "He remains a strong candidate to be released, but Granger, 32, isn’t considering retirement."
Ellis also notes, "you can make a case for the Pistons to at least bring Granger to camp. The team is very young, and the locker room could use the steadying influence of a 10-year veteran."
With eighth-overall pick Stanley Johnson appearing to be the future of the small forward position, the Pistons could wisely use Granger as a mentor for a few months before shipping him to Cleveland.
Andrea Bargnani, F, Brooklyn Nets
2015-16 Salary/Exception: $1,362,897 (Miller)
How He Fits:
If you can get over the fact he's a former No. 1 pick and has been vastly overpaid throughout his career, Bargnani does carry some value.
Cleveland could use him as a stretch 4 or 5 with his ability to shoot the three ball, despite standing 7'0" tall. When used as a center with the New York Knicks last season, Bargnani's PER was an impressive 30.4, via 82games.com.
The Cavs wouldn't get much rebounding or defense from the 29-year-old, but his outside touch (36.6 3P%) would help space the floor for LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
At his current (minimum) salary, Bargnani's talent is a nice bargain.
Brooklyn will be fighting for one of the remaining playoff spots in the Eastern Conference once again, but for how long?
Bargnani is on a no-risk contract for the Nets. Should they find themselves out of the running by the new year, any and all backup power forward playing time should be given to Thomas Robinson instead.
Kevin Martin, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
2015-16 Salary/Exception: $7,085,000 (Haywood)
How He Fits:
Martin has long been a borderline star in the NBA with his ability to fill it up from deep.
He fits the Cavs as a shooter behind Iman Shumpert or as a starter between Irving and James. With J.R. Smith still unsigned, Martin brings a lot of similar qualities to the table.
On the young Timberwolves last season, Martin put up a team-high 20.0 points per game along with 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He hit on 39.3 percent of his three-pointers, including 39.5 percent in catch-and-shoot situations, per NBA.com.
While shots wouldn't be nearly as plentiful on the Cavaliers, Martin could certainly receive his share of open looks.
Dealing Martin makes sense for the young Timberwolves, as he was originally signed to become a second star next to Kevin Love.
For whatever reason, Flip Saunders has held on to the 32-year-old, even though Martin's name was thrown around in trade rumors last February.
With a young backcourt comprised of Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and Tyus Jones, Saunders may finally be motivated to shed Martin's contract, especially if Cleveland includes its 2018 first-round pick in the process.
Channing Frye, PF, Orlando Magic
2015-16 Salary/Exception: $8,123,029 (Haywood)
How He Fits:
Frye became one of the league's best-shooting power forwards with the Phoenix Suns before taking a step back on the Orlando Magic last season.
With Cleveland, his role would be simplified, and the transition from a lottery-dweller to championship contender should provide plenty of motivation.
Despite having a down year, Frye still drilled 39.3 percent of his three-pointers to lead all NBA power forwards. With the Suns a year prior, Frye improved Phoenix's offense by 8.3 points per 100 possessions.
Like Bargani, Frye would serve as a backup stretch 4 and allow the Cavaliers to keep their spacing when Love sits.
The Magic made two "big" moves in the summer of 2014.
The first was to sign veteran guard Ben Gordon. The other, to bring in Frye on a four-year, $32 million deal. So far, both have flamed out.
Gordon was released after just one season, while Frye averaged a disappointing 7.3 points on 39.2 percent shooting from the field.
Orlando isn't going to make the playoffs next season and has another extension coming up for Victor Oladipo after dishing out big money to Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris.
As Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports, "Frye has three more seasons remaining on his contract, but his contract is structured in such a way that his salary will decrease from year to year. Those decreases could make him more attractive on the trade market."
If the Magic do wish to rid themselves of Frye's deal, Cleveland should be interested.
Nick Young, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers
2015-16 Salary/Exception: $5,219,169 (Haywood)
How He Fits:
Young would be a vibrant burst of offense on the Cavaliers' second team.
While known primarily for his scoring, Young held opponents to a stingy 27.9 percent shooting from outside of 15 feet last season, per NBA.com.
Averaging 13.4 points in just 23.8 minutes off the Lakers' bench last season, Young could replace Smith or join him to create the most entertaining 1-2 reserve scoring combo in quite possibly the history of sports.
If the two didn't totally spontaneously combust, it would mean an incredibly deep and talented Cavaliers' bench.
Young has been mentioned in trade rumors before, and the addition of shooting guard Lou Williams this summer certainly hasn't helped the former's chances of staying a Laker.
"It's been tough at times," Young recently told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. "I still stayed in the gym, still did what I was supposed to do, trying to block out everything and just still have fun. You never know what's going to happen — especially in free agency when you hear your name in every rumor and in every trade talk. It feels like Pau Gasol."
With the return of Kobe Bryant and a backcourt consisting of Williams, Jordan Clarkson and No. 2 overall pick D'Angelo Russell, Young's minutes are quickly disappearing in L.A.
Let the Swaggy P-J.R. Smith show in Cleveland begin.
Greg Swartz has covered the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA for Bleacher Report since 2010. Follow him on Twitter: @CavsGregBR.