NBA Trade Deadline: Cleveland Cavaliers Could Look at These Five Players Before Thursday

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Updated: February 20, 2013

By Bob Evans
Senior Writer

With the NBA trade deadline just two days away, the Cleveland Cavaliers could be major players thanks to their unique combination of expiring contracts, salary cap space and draft picks over the next few years.

Many people expect the Cavaliers to be in position to stockpile even more draft picks, as teams saddled with salary cap issues over the next season or two could look to move unflattering contracts now that they are out of playoff contention. The Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings are a few teams who fit the bill pretty well.

While nobody will be seeking them out because of their current playing ability, guys like Daniel Gibson ($4.79 million), Omri Casspi ($2.27 million) and Luke Walton ($6.09 million) could all provide cap relief to a team looking to shed some salary for next season thanks to their expiring contracts. If you add them up, that is a little over $13 million the Cavaliers could save for another NBA team next season.

The Cavaliers also have two players—Marreese Speights and Wayne Elliington—who they recently acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies that could net them a few assets in return. Speights is making $4.2 million this year and has a player option for $4.5 million next year, while Ellington is making $2.08 million this year and has a qualifying offer of $3.1 million next year if the team wants him to stay.

Speights and Ellington have been important off the Cavaliers’ bench, but if Speights is going to opt out and test free agency, the Cavaliers would be intelligent to move him and get yet another first-round draft pick from a playoff contender in return.

While Speights and Ellington would likely end up on a playoff contender, Gibson, Walton and Casspi will likely be headed to a team in need of cap relief. After scouring NBA salary figures and comparing them to the team’s current place in the standings, these five players may be available for the Cavs’ taking with any combination of those expiring contracts:

Thaddeus Young, SF, Philadelphia 76ers

At 24-years old, Philadelphia just gave Young a five-year, $42 million contract extension in December of 2011. They paid the youngster pretty well, and have enjoyed a 14.9 point and 7.4 rebound per game average from him this season. It is unlikely Philadelphia would move Young, but if they think his contract which escalates to $8.6 million next year, $9.1 million the year after and $9.7 million the year after that would hinder their ability to rebuild—don’t be surprised if the Cavaliers come calling.

Aaron Afflalo, SG, Orlando Magic

The Magic may be one of the biggest sellers at the trade deadline this year. Sitting at 15-37 in their first season after trading Dwight Howard, the Magic could look to move some of their longer contracts in order to free up space—which is why Afflalo could be available.

He is under contract at $7.5 million a year until the 2014/2015 season and he holds a player option for 2015/2016. Afflalo would be a nice addition thanks to his ability to score and play off the ball at the shooting guard position; not to mention he would allow Dion Waiters to come off the bench—a role he has become accustom to of later.

Eric Gordon, SG, New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans

Gordon is back from injury, and rumors continue to swirl around the shooting guard. He did not want to stay with the Hornets in free agency, but they committed $13.6 million to him this year which will go up to $15.5 million in 2015/2016 by matching the Suns’ offer. Sitting at 19-34, New Orleans could probably get quite the haul of draft picks and expiring contracts to continue their rebuild around Anthony Davis with.

Marcus Thornton, SG, Sacramento Kings

With the Kings’ expected move to Seattle, their front office could be in “sell mode” prior to the deadline. Thornton’s production this season has dipped by nearly seven points per game in scoring average, and his $7.6 million this year, $8.1 million next year and $8.6 million in 2014/2015 is much too high for a guy averaging 11.5 points. With his sweet outside shot and ability to provide instant offense, he would be a good fit in the Cavaliers’ offense playing with Kyrie Irving or Waiters.

Derrick Williams, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

Since the Timberwolves selected Williams in 2011, they have rarely utilized one of the top talents in that draft. Convinced he cannot play small forward at the NBA level, Williams primarily comes off the bench behind All-Star Kevin Love. If the T-Wolves look to move Williams, the Cavaliers should be first in line.

Minnesota owes Williams $4.9 million, $5.2 million and $6.6 million over the next three years of his contract, which are high numbers for a little used former Top 5 pick. The Cavaliers could provide some cap relief for next year, and even give the Wolves a future first-round pick back if necessary for a potential starting small forward to run with Irving and Waiters.

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Related Stories on Buckeye State Sports:

Marreese Speights Has Already Made Cleveland Cavaliers GM Chris Grant a Winner in Trade

Cleveland Cavaliers NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving has Already Proven this Writer Wrong

Cleveland Cavaliers Trade With Memphis Grizzlies has Opened Door for Bigger Move

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4 Comments

  1. Bob Evans

    February 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Appreciate your comment even though you disagree with the article. For what it is worth, there have been reports the Cavaliers will be “buyers” if the right scenario is available for them around the trading deadline. With all due respect to a lot of people out there, we all have no clue what the Cavaliers’ current philosophy is–so saying they are trying to keep their books clean for contracts that go past the 2013/2014 season is not accurate. This Cavaliers have NEVER been a big free agent draw no matter how much cap space you have, so passing on deals for players who could play a major role in getting to the next level because their salaries go past next season does not make sense.

    With that said, everyone wants to add a star…but how many will actually be available at a cost the Cavaliers can pay? Grant loves his stockpile of assets, but if you think a couple first round picks and expiring contracts are getting you a superstar…you are sadly mistaken.

    These are just a list of players who COULD be available for the Cavs based on the other team’s current standings and salary cap situation. I am not saying these are guys the Cavaliers are looking at, just providing a list of those who COULD be available and would make an impact on this team.

    I am not dismissing the fact that some GMs viewed Williams as not having a true position, but plenty of players do not have one when they are drafted and teams find a role for them. On a team with two quality front court defenders, Williams could settle into his role as a scoring small forward–something he excelled at very well at Arizona–and be a quality small forward in my eyes. Put him in a lineup with say Alonzo Gee out there guarding the opposing team’s top SG/SF scorer would allow him to focus less on the defensive end (the reason he is a man without a position b/c many feel he cannot guard elite scoring SFs in the NBA) and more on playing off the ball and scoring.

  2. Hmmmmm

    February 20, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I don’t agree with much of this article. The cavs are not looking to add any contracts that go past the 2013/2014 season and most guys you mention here have those contracts so the Cavs are not even considering these guys.

    They would only add someone like that if they were a star. Gordon is the closest of all these guys but with his injury history and his situation this year in NO I doubt we want him, unless he came on the cheap.

    Also, yes not drafting Williams had to do with the fact we liked Irving more but of course part of the reason we liked Irving more was because Williams doesn’t have a real position in the NBA. You can’t just dismiss this. \\

  3. Bob Evans

    February 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Nutjob….since it was a small blurb, I should have include a link to a bigger Derrick Williams article I wrote. I am a big fan of Williams’ and think he is more than capable of being a starting small forward on a team with good defensive bigs–like the Cavs have in Thompson and Varejao when he is healthy.

    As for why the Cavs didn’t draft him….they didn’t draft him because of Kyrie Irving. There was no indication they did not think he could play small forward at the NBA level. Plus, I wouldn’t base anything off the T-Wolves franchise. This is the same group that drafted two point guards the same year, then drafted Wesley Johnson and Derrick Williams in back-to-back years and chose to play Michael Beasley and others ahead of those players.

  4. nutjob

    February 20, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    The Derrick Williams piece makes no sense. The Cavs didn’t draft him in part because they didn’t think he could play SF. As your article states, the T Wolves now agree with that assessment.

    Yet you conjecture that the Cavs would trade for him and use him as a “potential starting small forward.”

    Huh?

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