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NBA Trade Rumors: Should the Cleveland Cavaliers Pursue Atlanta Hawk Al Horford?
As the Cleveland Cavaliers look for ways to bolster their roster with NBA experience and talent, a number of names are being thrown around to fill that void. We have all heard Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge numerous times, but ESPN is reporting the team is eying another big man who had not been previously mentioned—Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks.
While the likes of Love and Aldridge would likely be blockbuster deals centered on the No. 1 overall pick, Horford would be able to be acquired without it. With two years at $12 million per season left on his contract, the 28-year old is coming off a season in which he played in just 29-of-82 games—marking the second time in the last three years he has failed to play half the season. Back in the 2011-2012 season, Horford played in only 11 games after suffering a torn pectoral muscle—the same thing that occurred again this year.
The risk associated with acquiring a player who has torn a pectoral in two of the last three seasons is why the Cavaliers could get him for cheaper than most would think. Averaging 14 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game on 56.7 percent shooting, a healthy Horford would be a major addition to the Cavaliers front court. When he is on top of his game, he is a scoring threat who can stretch the floor with a solid mid-range jumper.
Horford also has the size (6’10” and 240 pounds) to make a major impact down low. He is an excellent rebounder and alters shots with his length. Horford also has the ability to guard multiple positions, as he has played power forward and center throughout the majority of his career.
So what would the Cavaliers have to give up to land Horford?
That is a difficult question to answer, but a good starting point would be to look at the Hawks salary cap situation. They currently have $47, 957,121 on the books according to Hoops Hype for the 2014-2015 season. If they are looking to clear cap space and make a run at a max player, a deal centered on Anderson Varejao’s partially guaranteed contract would make a lot of sense.
Owed $9.8 million for the upcoming season, the Hawks could immediately cut him and only have to pay him $4 million—thus saving $5.8 million in the process. They could also get the Cavaliers to add in Scotty Hopson’s $2.45 million non-guaranteed contract as well, thus clearing just north of $8 million to use in free agency.
Now, if the Hawks are looking to acquire a young player in the deal, one would have to think Tristan Thompson would be an ideal place to start. Set to make $5.4 million this coming season and a restricted free agent after that, the Cavaliers will soon have to make a decision on their young, inconsistent big and whether they will offer him a contract extension. Thompson’s rebounding and defensive presence down low would give the Hawks a young replacement for Horford.
While it is just another rumor at this time of the year, acquiring Horford could be a low risk, high reward type of move that could make a major impact for the Cavaliers next season. A lineup with the likes of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Al Horford and the No. 1 overall pick would be a very talented young cast that could challenge teams right away. Not to mention the Cavaliers have a lot of salary cap space to play with in free agency, and could bring in another star player through a sign and trade deal or by signing them in free agency outright.
Whether it is Horford, Love, Aldridge or some other player, new general manager David Griffin inherited a gold mine of assets to finally get the Cavaliers over the hump this offseason. Now let’s see what he can do with the hand dealt to him in the coming weeks.
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