5 Trades That Could Take Cleveland Cavaliers to the Next Level
Despite coming off a trip to the NBA Finals and posting a 30-11 record to begin this season, major changes are being made to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported that the Cavs had fired head coach David Blatt on Friday, a move that stunned many around the league.
This may not be the end of alterations in Northeast Ohio, either.
While the Cavaliers probably don't need to pull off a blockbuster deal by the Feb. 18 trade deadline to reach the next level, they do possess some valuable trade exceptions to target additional talent with.
Last week we outlined some realistic trade targets that should become available in the next month. Now is where the framework of these potential deals, and others, begin to take shape.
The sad reality is, the Cavaliers are very much limited in what they can send back. Cleveland's main assets include:
- $10.5 million trade exception
- $2.85 million trade exception
- 2018 first-round draft pick
- 2020 first-round draft pick
- 2016 second-round draft pick (via Los Angeles Clippers, protected 31-55)
- 2019 second-round draft pick (less favorable of Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves)
- 2020 second-round draft pick (via Portland Trail Blazers, protected 31-55)
With needs at backup power forward and overall experience, here are five potential targets for Cleveland and what it would likely take to acquire them.
Cavs, Nuggets Swap Arthur, Picks
Denver Receives: 2016 second-round pick, 2019 second-round pick, $2.8 million trade exception
Cleveland Receives: PF Darrell Arthur
While still technically alive for the playoffs, it's hard to foresee Denver as buyers at the deadline due to the talent ahead of them.
Darrell Arthur has played a strong role as a stretch-4 off the bench, averaging 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds during the month of January. The 27-year-old forward is also connecting on 42.5 percent of his three-pointers this season and would serve as an excellent spacer behind Kevin Love.
As it currently stands, Cleveland doesn't possess a backup 4 that can provide Love's outside shooting prowess. James Jones has been used in this role but is undersized at 6'8" and struggled to defend stronger opponents.
Given his one-year Bird contract, Arthur would have to approve of a trade to the Cavs. Given the opposite directions that Cleveland and Denver are heading, it would be hard to imagine he'd refuse.
Cleveland Adds Former Foe
Minnesota Receives: 2020 second-round pick, $947,276 trade exception
Cleveland Receives: SF Tayshaun Prince
As the Timberwolves (13-31) fall further and further out of contention, 35-year-old Tayshaun Prince's minutes continue to increase. Why?
Minnesota brought the veteran forward in to serve as a mentor to its young core, but now he's taking up too many valuable minutes on a lottery-bound team. It would be best for both parties to go their separate ways, with Prince joining a franchise he used to do battle against so often.
With 140 playoff games under his belt, he would be a welcome addition to a Cavs team that's still very inexperienced. Cleveland doesn't need his scoring but rather Prince's ability to assist others in defensive preparation and attitude.
Although he could become a buyout candidate after the deadline, swapping an essentially useless protected future pick would guarantee the Cavs his services while keeping their larger trade exception fully intact.
'Kieff to Cleveland
Phoenix Receives: 2018 first-round pick, $8.0 million trade exception
Cleveland Receives: Markieff Morris, PF
Markieff Morris' leaving Arizona is a matter of when, not if, at this point, and the Cavaliers should at least make an offer. With no cap room to sign a player of Morris' ability in free agency, this is the Cavs' opportunity to add affordable talent, even with his off-the-court issues.
He may not get the starting job a normal 26-year-old typically desires, but Morris could carve out a rotational role on what's easily become the best team in the Eastern Conference. The change in geography would mean a short two-and-a-half hour drive from Detroit and his twin brother, Marcus, as well.
If being in the presence of LeBron James can lead to a focused and productive Morris, the $24 million he's owed over the next three years (via spotrac.com) will be an absolute steal.
Able to play three different positions and stretch the floor for Cleveland, Morris is definitely worth spending a first-round pick on.
Cavaliers Welcome Anderson, Cole, Perkins
New Orleans Receives: C Timofey Mozgov, G Mo Williams, $4.0 million in trade exceptions, 2018 first-round pick
Cleveland Receives: PF Ryan Anderson, PG Norris Cole, C Kendrick Perkins
Despite an awful start to the season, the Pelicans are just four games out of the Western Conference playoff picture. Losing Eric Gordon for the next four to six weeks due to finger surgery hurts and creates a need for an offensive-minded guard.
Enter the Cavs, who can also offer Timofey Mozgov to take minutes from Omer Asik at center next to Anthony Davis.
For Cleveland, rolling the dice on Ryan Anderson would be a gamble, considering he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. That being said, his outside shooting ability would fit beautifully behind Love.
Cole is an Ohio native who shares an agent and summer workout program with LeBron James. He would bring a tough, defensive attitude behind Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova. Bringing Perkins back would just be fun. He's voiced his frustration already this season and was well liked by teammates in Cleveland last year.
The Cavs may need to throw in a first-rounder to sweeten the deal, but this haul would be a nice addition to the rotation.
Milwaukee Receives: PG Ty Lawson, F/C Jared Sullinger, C Timofey Mozgov, SG James Young, SG K.J. McDaniels
Houston Receives: PF David Lee, G Jerryd Bayless
Boston Receives: C Greg Monroe, SG J.R. Smith
Cleveland Receives: F/C John Henson, SF Chris Copeland
This all begins with the Bucks, whose disappointing start has them thinking about shaking things up.
Sending off Greg Monroe turns one starter into a potential three. Ty Lawson is arguably a top-10 point guard in the right situation and should turn things around under Jason Kidd. Jared Sullinger and Mozgov help on the glass, while James Young and K.J. McDaniels provide two young, athletic guards to build around.
The Rockets would be more than happy to flip Lawson into some quality depth with David Lee and Jerryd Bayless. Boston gets a proven star in Monroe and a floor space with Smith to push forward in the Eastern Conference standings.
For the Cavs, losing Mozgov and J.R. Smith hurts, but both could leave in free agency this summer. John Henson is young and locked in financially, providing Cleveland with some much-needed shot blocking. Chris Copeland provides insurance behind James and Love.
Greg Swartz is the Cleveland Cavaliers Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @CavsGregBR.
Stats via Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise sourced and are current as of Jan. 20. Thanks to Joel Cordes for final trade idea.