Cleveland Cavaliers Stand Pat at Trade Deadline, Could they Eye a Different King in Summer of 2014?
By Bob Evans
The 2013 NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone, and as a surprise to nobody the Cleveland Cavaliers and general manager Chris Grant did not make a deal. With maintaining cap flexibility and their stockpile of assets in mind, it appears there was not a deal that made sense on the table for Grant and the Cavaliers to pull the trigger on.
With three veteran, expiring contract on hand—and certainly a number of teams that needed to get under the tax threshold—there were likely opportunities for the Cavaliers to take on a not-so friendly contract for a middle of the road player. However, Grant’s decision to stand pat means one thing—the Cavaliers will likely be active in free agency this summer or next.
While the organization is not traditionally a “main attraction” for free agents, budding start point guard Kyrie Irving could be a major selling point. If you have a sense of déjà vu coming over you right now, it is because many of us wrote the exact same thing not too long ago in regard to LeBron James and the Cavaliers; however, then general manager Danny Ferry was not able to do what Grant has done.
With Grant at the helm, the Cavaliers have assembled a young core with Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. On top of that, the team has stockpiled a number of draft picks over the next few seasons as either future players or potential trade assets. While both of those are major selling points to the team, the biggest selling point is that the Cavaliers have just $32 million in committed salary for 2013/2014 (could be less if Marreese Speights opts out). After that, the team does not have committed salary for 2014/2015, but they do own team options on Anderson Varejao, Irving, Thompson, Waiters, Alonzo Gee and Zeller which would bring the team to around $32 million if all exercised (numbers from HoopsHype.com salaries).
Now that you have all of this in mind, the general assumption is that the Cavaliers will utilize their cap space to bring back the former “King” of Cleveland, LeBron James, and a few other pieces to put a good championship squad around Irving. However, this writer refuses to address James’ possible return to Cleveland based on what happened last time—instead let’s talk about the possibility of another “King” coming to Cleveland—King Paul George of the Indiana Pacers.
Alright, so maybe he isn’t a “King” like LeBron; but his twitter handle @King24George seems to show he thinks very highly of himself in the same regard. And after the Pacers exercised their club options on George for the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 seasons, it appears George is set to hit the market in the summer of 2014 as a restricted free agent.
Restricted free agency will make it a little tougher to pry him away from the Pacers, as they will be able to match any offer. But if the Cavaliers feel the 6’8” and 220-pound former Top 10 pick is the answer at small forward next to Irving, they will be able to offer him a boatload of cash to leave Indiana.
Right now is the time where most people would give you some crazy back story about why Irving and George have a connection from when they were kids, and that it is inevitable they will link up to form the next grouping of stars in Cleveland. Unfortunately, I have no such story. However, they did look pretty synced up during the All-Star game as Irving found George on a number of occasions.
In just his third year in the league, George’s numbers have jumped dramatically for the Pacers this season. He is averaging 17.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game—both major jumps from his 2012 numbers. He has shown the ability to hit the outside shot (forget about his three-point contest performance), but also put the ball on the ground and get to the hole when he needs to.
George is also a very unselfish player who does not demand the ball to be successful; which is also something the Cavaliers are in dire need of. While Irving and Waiters looked much better together against the Hornets, they have experienced growing pains in year one.
Does all of this mean the Cavaliers have an actual shot at prying George away from the Pacers—probably not. If he keeps progressing at this rate, the team will likely look to move Danny Granger and give George the big contract extension.
What it does mean is there will be more than one option to bring a “King” to Cleveland in 2014, and either one would probably be pretty good at convincing Irving to stay for the long haul.
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