The Cavaliers have looked like they've had all types of problems recently. They clearly haven't shown the resiliency that Chicago has to win without their star players. Cleveland now sits at 19-17 while LeBron rests for two weeks.
I suppose we need no more proof than their recent play that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are no Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
It's quite possible the recent putrescence emanating from the Cavaliers pushed them into their most recent trades. A couple days ago they completed a trade which landed them Iman Shumpert and OKC's 1st for Dion Waiters. A trade which maybe lowers their total talent level but possibly gives them more of what they need.
It was a defense for offense trade in a league where offense is always priced more, but the Cavs figured they had enough offense and needed that defense. I agree with them, and the trade also cleared out a knucklehead to bring in someone they'll hope isn't [but very well might be]. They also landed J.R. Smith, whom will, hopefully for Cavs fans, not be a significant part of anything.
Last night, they completed a trade with Denver for Timofey Mozgov to add the rim protector that they've lacked. Mozgov is far from a superstar center, but he's a quality rebounder, decent scorer, and decent shot blocker.
They sent over a first they were owed from Memphis and the pick acquired from OKC to land him. For the Cavs, this is a pretty sweet deal. Mozgov has another bargain year on his contract, and the Cavs need to try to win right away. Two mid to late round 1sts weren't going to do a whole lot more for them than this.
The move was especially important after losing Anderson Varejao for the season.
Cleveland still has one more bullet in the trade tank, Brendan Haywood's truly bizarre contract [he's paid 2 million, but has 10 million non guaranteed on the books for next year that has a guarantee date of August 1st, so he can be traded for a 15 million dollar player after this season then be waived by the receiving team for them to clear out all their space].
However, they won't be able to really utilize that one until the off-season which means this is likely where Cleveland is going to stay in terms of personnel.
Did they do enough to get them back to contender status? On paper they look considerably deadlier than a week ago, but I'm not sure Mozgov is better than a healthy Varejao, and Shumpert will have to hope to be a better fit than Waiters, because I don't think he's a better player.
The Cavs did add a bunch of defense with these moves and helped with some of their size issues. I think they're definitely a better team now than a week ago, but probably not better than when they started the regular season.
This was a solid move for Cleveland, and it was probably the best they could do. Whether these moves are enough for this season won't depend on the moves themselves but on whether Cleveland's stars can play together. These moves might be enough to strength the rest of the rotation to win if their stars play great, but the moves clearly aren't enough to make up for the lack of continuity or quality play we've seen from their star players to date.
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