The Cleveland Cavaliers may have just pulled off the biggest free agent signing in NBA history. Heck, they may have pulled off the biggest signing in the history of professional sports, in general, but that is a conversation for another day. In my opinion, the way the roster sits right now, on Friday, July 11th, 2014, the Cavaliers still have a lot of growing to do if they expect to be playing basketball in June. In his essay that was published by Sports Illustrated that explained his decision to return to Cleveland, James hinted at the need for growth before a championship can be expected: “I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way.”
Having traded away role players Jarrett Jack and Tyler Zeller, who contributed valuable minutes to the Cavaliers last season, the Cavaliers still have some holes to fill in their roster. A rundown by position of the Cavaliers roster is as follows:
C- Anderson Varejao, Brendan Haywood, Dwight Powell
PF- Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett
SF- LeBron James, Carrick Felix
SG- Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins, Joe Harris
PG- Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova
As you can see, the Cavaliers are laden with shooting guards, but just about every position otherwise could use some depth, especially the front court. Additionally, the Cavs lack NBA-proven shooters that would be a huge asset for a team with the slashing capabilities of guys like Kyrie and LeBron. These areas need addressed. With two first-round picks in next year’s NBA draft (and perhaps a third, depending on how the Heat fair next season) and a couple promising young players, the Cavaliers could be looking to move some assets and make a big splash in the trade market.
The obvious name that has been swirling in trade rumors is Kevin Love. Although he is not known as a great defender, an All-Star caliber player, Love would provide the Cavaliers with rebounding, three-point shooting, floor spacing, and experience–all things the Cavaliers desperately need. But there’s a price a price to pay. In order to acquire Love, the Cavaliers will more than likely have to give up not only a couple of first-round draft picks, but also two or three rotation players, as well. Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) reported on multiple occasions that Andrew Wiggins would not be traded, leaving Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Anthony Bennett as the most attractive trade pieces on the Cavalier roster. Reports indicated that Waiters, Bennett, and picks would not be enough to pry Love from the T-Wolves, leaving me to believe that the Wolves seek more experience and success than what Anthony Bennett has to offer. In order to obtain Love, the Cavaliers also would most likely be forced to part with Tristan Thompson–something I am not sure the Cavs are ready (or should be ready to do). As I personally have stated before, the Cavaliers have had multiple opportunities to deal Tristan Thompson, but chose to keep him, in what I believe was part of the strategy to lure LeBron back to Cleveland (Thompson and LeBron share the same agent and are close off the court). Trading Thompson now does not make a whole lot of sense.
Though the Timberwolves have the luxury of setting the price for Love, the Cavaliers do carry a bit of leverage, however. Outside of the Cavaliers, the Wolves are short on willing trade partners, mainly because Kevin Love refuses to sign a long-term contract extension with teams who are not in contention. According to reports by ESPN, with the addition of LeBron, Love would most likely sign such an extension to stay in Cleveland. At some point, the Wolves may be forced to trade Love to the Cavs at the Cavs’ price, or watch him walk away for nothing this summer. However, that point of no return may not come until closer to the trade deadline in February 2015. I propose the Cavaliers hold off on a trade until then. With LeBron spearheading the roster, guys who have had moderately impressive numbers thus far in the NBA may turn in to All-Star-type players (I’m looking at you Dion, Tristan, Andrew…).
The best route for the Cavaliers to go at the present time may be to resist the urge to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade, add a few more free agent role players, and allow the team to grow together. If the Cavaliers should struggle, they almost certainly could make a trade at the deadline where they would have more leverage or even wait until the free agent summer of 2015 for guys like Kevin Love and Lamarcus Aldridge to hit the open market, barring the signing of an extension.
Role players the Cavaliers have been rumored to be in contact with include Ray Allen and Mike Miller. Each of these two would help the Cavaliers in the perimeter shooting and experience category. As I write, Sam Amico reported via his twitter that the “Cavs [are] in talks with free agent center Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen, sources tell @FOXSportsOH.” Other potential targets for the Cavs to round out the roster could include PG Jameer Nelson, C Jermaine O’Neal, and C Emeka Okafor, among others.
Before parting, I have one bit of advice for the Cavalier front office as free agency continues: Not everything that shines is always gonna fit with the wine and gold.
But hey, it’s a good time to be a Cavalier fan.
For more opinions on all things Cavs, Browns, and Indians, please follow me on twitter: @CST_BenB