The Cleveland Cavaliers are in rough shape, to say the least.
The team most thought would take serious steps forward this year to at least make the playoffs if not advance just fired its GM after losing to a Lakers team that had to play a guy with six fouls because they had no one else available. The team now sits at 16-33.
It's safe to say more changes are coming and with Boston in the middle of its own rebuild and owning tons of assets to make deals, it's only natural to see if there is anyone Boston could grab off this dumpster fire. The results aren't pretty.
Here is a breakdown of the players Boston could trade for, along with their current stat lines and contract situations with some analysis. I'm leaving Kyrie Irving out because unless Cleveland really wants to start completely from scratch, the 22-year-old will be the guy they build around, again.
Dion WaitersStats: 14 ppg, 2.6 apg, 2.8 rpg, shooting 36.7 percent from beyond the arc
Contract: 2013-14: $3,894,240, 2014-15: $4,062,000, 2015-16: team option for $5,138,430, 2016-17: qualifying offer of $6,777,589
Analysis: Waiters sounds like the guy Cleveland is looking to move first, as the rumblings out of the locker room are he and Irving don't get along. Waiters is a nice young player with tons of potential and a decent contract, but Boston already has a nice young off-guard in Avery Bradley who is starting to become a real two-way threat with his defense and improved shooting. There are also no concerns about Bradley being a malcontent in the locker room. The only reason the Celtics would deal for Waiters is if they can't see themselves re-signing Bradley in the offseason or use him as part of a bigger deal to bring in a superstar. As long as Bradley is in Boston, there's no fit for Waiters.
Tristan ThompsonStats: 12 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 0.4 bpg, shooting 45.7 percent from the field
Contract: 2013-14: $4,062,000, 2014-15: $5,138,430, 2015-16: qualifying offer of $6,777,589
Analysis: Thompson was drafted three spots after Irving at No. 4 in 2011, but inconsistency seems to be the name of his game right now. The kid can certainly rebound and his stats look alright for a guy in his third year, but looking at some of his recent games it seems like he's still trying to find his place in the league. After putting up 17 points and 13 rebounds against Phoenix on Jan. 26, Thompson followed up with stat lines of five points and five rebounds, two points and two rebounds and six points and seven rebounds in his next three games. Could he turn it around? Sure, but Boston already has a young stud at power forward with Jared Sullinger so whatever price Cleveland wanted for a guy drafted in the top-5 three drafts ago that would be relegated to the bench would be too much.
Tyler ZellerStats: 4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 0.4 bpg, shooting 54.5 percent from the field
Contract: 2013-14: $1,633,440, 2014-15: $1,703,760, 2015-16: team option for $2,616,975, 2016-17: qualifying offer of $3,695,169
Analysis: Zeller had a decent rookie year, averaging 7.9 ppg and 5.7 rpg, but that was because he started 55 games with Anderson Varejao sidelined with a torn leg muscle and a blood clot in his lung. This season, Zeller has seen his minutes cut in half to 12 per contest. His per 36 minute stats this season aren't that bad, at 11.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg and 1.3 bpg, but Zeller's ceiling looks to be an average starting center. Could the Celtics trade for Zeller, given they need a center? Sure, but what they would offer, very little, is probably not going to entice whoever takes the reigns in Cleveland. Boston needs a center, but there are plenty of ways to acquire a better one with more potential. The Cavaliers would be better off holding onto their cost controlled big man and seeing what he turns into.
Anderson VarejaoStats: 8.9 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 0.8 bpg, shooting 48.6 percent from the field
Contract: 2013-14: $9,036,364, 2014-15: $9,704,545 partially guaranteed
Analysis: Varejao is a very solid center who spews energy, but at 31 years old, he's not exactly what a rebuilding team is looking for. That $9 million salary next year, assuming Boston fully guaranteed it, would also impact Boston's ability to re-sign Bradley and hurt their overall financial flexibility, unless Cleveland took back Gerald Wallace, but I don't think the next GM of the Cavaliers wants to be known as the shortest tenured GM in NBA history. You trade for Varejao to win now and the Celtics are playing for tomorrow.
Luol DengStats: 17.6 ppg, 3.2 apg, 6.2 rpg, 1.1 spg
Contract: 2013-14: $14,275,000
Analysis: Deng is the most intriguing of the bunch. He's a two-time all-star and is only 28 years old. That $14 million contract is a bit daunting, but the Celtics could send a package of an expiring Kris Humphries and a few picks if Cleveland were looking to move Deng. Although they did acquire him earlier this year for Andrew Bynum's expiring deal and essentially three second round picks, so getting something similar in return for Deng makes the trade all for naught. Deng is also on an expiring deal, so Boston would have to be confident they would be able to re-sign him if they are going to give up assets for him, something it seems Cleveland didn't do. While Deng is a really good player at a position the Celtics are looking to upgrade, he's just a little too expensive, as he'll probably be looking for similar if not more money on his next contract, and a little too old for Boston. Trading for Deng would mean the same thing it meant when Cleveland did it, the team is looking to win now. Unless Danny Ainge has a change of heart and is willing to make a run with a still-developing Sullinger and Bradley, odds are Deng isn't wearing green anytime soon.
Anthony BennettStats: 3.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.3 apg and a player efficiency rating of 3.82 (league average is 15)
Contract: 2013-14: $5,324,280, 2014-15: $5,563,920, 2015-16: team option for $5,803,560, 2016-17: team option for $7,318,289, 2017-18: qualifying offer of $9,513,776
Analysis: Saved the best for last. The first indication anyone should of had that this season might not be the year Cleveland takes the next step was when they picked Bennett first overall in the last draft. It was a real head scratcher. At 6'8" and 259 lbs., Bennett is just the latest version of a guy with no real position in the league. Too big to be a wing, too short to be a power forward. That's not to say he'll never have a place on a roster or even turn into an alright starter, but with the first overall pick? Weak draft or not, this was a bad selection. Any trade for Bennett would be for pennies on the dollar so Cleveland is better riding this experiment out for now. Even if the Celtics could somehow trade for Bennett, do you really want to be paying him over $5 million for the next few years? That's a good chunk of change for a guy you have no idea what to do with. As with Thompson, Sullinger makes Bennett unnecessary anyway, unless coach Brad Stevens plays Bennett at the three for the beefiest front court known to man, regardless of who the center is.
Bottom line: There really isn't anything on this team that Boston should want. Which is crazy considering where Cleveland's young studs were drafted. Thompson, Waiters and Bennett were all picked in the top-5 over the past three years and Zeller was picked 17th overall in 2012. With all of that perceived potential and how little they've lived up to it so far, Chris Grant getting fired seems to make more and more sense.
This tweet pretty much sums it up:
Like I said 30 days ago ... http://t.co/4h43thLfov pic.twitter.com/8Xegv6nBIR
— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) February 6, 2014
Salaries via Basketball Insiders
Stats via Basketball-Reference Eric Blaisdell 2/06/2014 09:11:00 PM Tweet