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Cleveland Cavaliers Rumors: Could Evan Turner or Luol Deng Provide a Spark?
As the month of November comes to a close and the Cleveland Cavaliers get ready to host LeBron James and the Miami Heat on Wednesday, to say the 2013-2014 season hasn’t gone to plan for the Cavaliers would be an understatement. Sitting at 4-10 after a 30-point blowout courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA trade rumors have already started to swirl on what it would take to right this ship before the Cavaliers sink into lottery abyss for yet another season.
With an obvious hole at the small forward position and a major need for someone who play off the ball and score, rumors are currently connecting the Cavaliers to players who can come in and contribute from day one at small forward. The likes of Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee just are not getting it done, as the two are combining for just under 10 points per game. Gee poses literally no perimeter threat, and Clark has shown only a willingness to shoot from the outside. A small forward is supposed to be a dual-threat at getting to the hole and having a mid-range to outside game, so having a guy who doesn’t excel at both really impedes your offense.
One player who has been connected recently to fill this void in rumors is former Ohio State Buckeye, Evan Turner.
In a recent article from the New York Daily News, Mitch Lawrence stated, “The Sixers don’t want to pay Turner $10 million per year when he becomes a restricted free agent next summer, so they’re expected to try to move him. The first team they’ll call, if they haven’t already, is the Cavaliers, who have been searching for a small forward since you-know-who took his talents to South Beach. Turner is an Ohio State alum and he’d be an upgrade over some of you-know-who’s replacements: Luke Walton, Alonzo Gee, Omri Casspi and Earl Clark.”
Lawrence makes a valid point in regard to Turner. At 6’7” and 216 pounds, Turner can play both the shooting guard and small positions at the NBA level. At just 25-years of age, Turner is experiencing his best season in the NBA—averaging 21.7 points, 3.6 assists and 6.9 rebounds per contest. After struggling to live up to being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, it seems things are finally coming together for Turner, who has averaged 10.8 points, 3.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds for his career.
With restricted free agency on the horizon for Turner next year, making a deal with Philadelphia for him would be intriguing. Turner is making $6.6 million this year and has a qualifying offer for $8.7 million next year according to HoopsHype.com. With the Cavaliers cap flexibility, young players, expiring contracts and arsenal of draft picks over the next few years, they could certainly put something together to entice the 76ers to make a deal. But the question is, just what would Philadelphia want in return for Turner?
While he is playing very well this year, history cannot be ignored in regard to the former Buckeye when putting together an offer. Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant knows this, which is why making a deal for Turner is very tricky.
On one side, the 25-year old is a very good defender—which would fit head coach Mike Brown’s system—he is a very good slasher and finisher around the rim and has all the upside in the world as his jump shot continues to develop. On the other side, Turner has shot just 42.5, 44.6 and 41.9 percent from the field his first three seasons (shooting 45.6 percent in year four right now), so his shooting output this year could be a product of Philadelphia having nobody else to turn to, as he is averaging 18.1 shots per game versus 10.2 as his career average.
Philadelphia has plenty of cap space and flexibility themselves next year, so they likely wouldn’t just give Turner away. Philadelphia did just trade away Jrue Holliday prior to the season, so a guy like Dion Waiters—who is from Philadelphia—could entice the 76ers. On top of that, Waiters played at Syracuse with starting rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, so the chemistry issues Waiters has experienced during his time in Cleveland with Kyrie Irving wouldn’t likely exist.
If a deal for Turner cannot be done, an interesting name that appeared on Twitter from Pro Basketball Draft is Luol Deng.
With the Chicago Bulls losing Derrick Rose yet again for the season, the Bulls could be at a crossroads with their roster. Deng is scheduled to hit free agency next year with his expiring $14.3 million contract, but the Bulls still have $64.5 million committed to their roster for next year according to HoopsHype.com. Without Rose, the Bulls will still likely make the playoffs in the downtrodden Eastern division, but their ability to be players next offseason in the draft and free agency isn’t very good—and nobody knows if Rose will ever be the same after his latest knee injury.
As mentioned before, the Cavaliers have young players, draft picks and could even provide cap relief for the Bulls if they wanted to include another player in the deal with Deng. The question to be answered in this situation would be, do the Cavaliers want to take on another player and take away some cap space for a likely one-year rental of Deng?
Both Turner and Deng would provide a major upgrade for the Cavaliers and certainly help add some offensive power to their lineup at this time. With plenty of assets to make a deal, Grant could certainly do something to change the course of the Cavaliers for the 2013-2014 season right now. However, Grant values having cap flexibility and the organization seems dead set on making a splash in the 2014 market, so it would be really surprising to see him do anything to hurt either of those things in a reactionary move just 14 games into the season.
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