The Cleveland Cavaliers are preparing for the start of the 2016-17 regular season, but they first need to make sure the roster is set.
While the organization would likely want to keep every player from last year's championship squad, the combination of money and a lack of roster spots could force the front office to make some trades. From the perspective of other teams, some deals are more interesting than others.
Perhaps the most intriguing player potentially on the move is Iman Shumpert, someone who appeared set to be the starting shooting guard until recently. Zach Lowe of ESPN.com provided the latest rumors surrounding the 26-year-old player:
Keep an eye on Iman Shumpert. Several teams, including Minnesota, have inquired about his availability in the past few weeks and gotten the impression Cleveland is ready to talk, according to several league sources. The Cavs won't salary-dump Shump for nothing, but given their tax situation, cutting payroll by a few million promises exponential savings.
This is an interesting situation for Cleveland, which recently re-signed J.R. Smith to a four-year, $57 million deal. Smith will resume his role as the starting shooting guard (and resident comic relief), making Shumpert an expensive backup on the books for three more years.
According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), the Cavaliers are set to have the most expensive starting lineup in NBA history, earning close to $100 million this season combined. This obviously makes it difficult to keep a sixth man earning almost $10 million himself.
Shumpert is an expendable player who can help cut costs if Cleveland can find a reasonable deal.
With that said, this team is obviously trying to compete for another championship and will have an even tougher road this time around with the Golden State Warriors getting stronger. Shumpert isn't a big-time scorer, but he is a good defender and could be valuable off the bench throughout the season.
If the organization can handle the extra cost, there is no reason to give him up without a reasonable return.
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While there could be a decent bidding war for Shumpert, this likely won't be the case for Mo Williams, who is apparently also on the trade block.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported the Cavaliers are looking to trade Williams, who is owed $2.2 million and didn't show up to training camp.
While Williams did play in 41 games for Cleveland last season, he is coming off one of his least effective seasons. His 8.2 points per game were his lowest since his rookie year in 2003-04, and he barely saw the floor in the playoffs when rotations got tighter. He averaged just 1.5 points in 5.2 minutes per game during the postseason run to the championship.
The 33-year-old player was expected to retire before announcing his return in September on Twitter:
It made sense for Williams to utilize his player option, but now he leaves the Cavaliers with a lack of options besides simply eating that lost money. One way the team could get rid of him is by pairing him with talented prospect Jordan McRae in a package deal, as Windhorst suggested the team has done.
On the other hand, Sam Amico of Amico Hoops reports McRae could be dealt on his own:
McRae was a second-round pick for the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, finally getting on the court last season while splitting time between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Cavaliers. He played in 15 games with Cleveland, averaging 4.1 points per game, including 7-of-11 from three-point range.
The 25-year-old player's skills were on display in the preseason, where he averaged 14 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists in six games. He also shot 36.4 percent from beyond the arc, showing that even if he can't replicate his shooting in a small sample size from last year, he can still be a consistent producer.
If the Cavaliers don't find a suitable trade partner, McRae could stick around and become a replacement for Shumpert if he is dealt.
The front office clearly has a lot of options, most of which are minor moves compared to the bigger names on the roster. Considering how many other teams in the NBA are scrambling to fill bigger roles in the rotation, the Cavaliers are in great shape to remain patient and wait for a possible deal to come to fruition.
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