COMMENTARY | Don't look now, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are finally starting to resemble a real basketball team.
Winners of four straight games, the Cavs find themselves just three games out of the Eastern Conference playoffs. After previously losing eight out of nine games, the Cavs fired general manager Chris Grant. When Grant left, he seemingly took the attitudes and drama surrounding the Cavaliers this season with him. What's followed has been inspired, defensive-oriented play and a 4-0 record in their last four games.
That being said, does anyone really believe the Cavs are a playoff team as currently constructed? With the trade deadline quickly approaching on February 20, should Cleveland be comfortable just standing pat?
To better improve their chances at a postseason run, and keep his job this summer, here are three moves acting general manager David Griffin should look to make:
Move No. 1: Trade Jarrett Jack
Jack was brought in this offseason to provide insurance and veteran leadership behind young guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. He was coming off an excellent year with the Golden State Warriors, having averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 assists at the team's sixth man.
Cleveland gave him a four-year, $25 million contract that includes a team option in the final season. At the time, this seemed like a very fair deal, given all that Jack brought to the young Warriors squad a year ago.
Unfortunately, things haven't worked out.
Jack has been downright disappointing for Cleveland. He often looks to shoot first and pass second, and his stats are significantly down from last season. Jack is currently averaging just 8.5 points and 3.7 assists on 39.7 percent shooting from the field.
The 30-year-old point guard has fallen in love with the mid-range jumper (47.8 percent of all his shots), yet converts just 36 percent of them.
After this season, Jack will still have three years and nearly $19 million left on his deal.
Cleveland needs to find a buyer for Jack, and should make a call to a team like the Warriors to try and get his contract off their hands.
Move No. 2: Get Anything Possible for Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee
The Cavaliers hold team options on both players for next year, and will almost certainly allow them to hit free agency.
Both can bring some nice things to a team. Clark has shown he can hit the three-ball this season (34.5 percent) and Gee is an athletic defender and hustle player.
The problem is, neither have a future with the Cavaliers.
Cleveland has begun to give all their backup power forward minutes to first overall pick Anthony Bennett, who has been playing strong as of late. Gee's minutes should be going to 2013 first-round pick Sergey Karasev, who is a better shooter and contains more upside.
There are certainly contenders out there who could use a player like Clark or Gee off their bench for a playoff run, if only for a little insurance.
The Cavs should be willing to move them for anything, even a future second-round pick, rather than lose them for nothing this offseason.
Move No. 3: Go After a Center
For Cleveland, getting a starting center of the future should be top priority.
Anderson Varejao, as great as he's been in his career, can no longer be relied upon. Varejao has missed five of the Cavs' last nine game this year after playing just 81 total games the previous three seasons.
The 31-year-old has a partially-guaranteed contract for next season. If the Cavs hope to land a big free agent this summer, they may have to shed his deal off their books.
Tyler Zeller has been much-improved this season, but just isn't ready to be an everyday center on a potential playoff team. The Cavs should look outside of the organization for someone who can help them secure the center position both now and for the future.
The Cavs' first target should be Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons. A restricted free agent this offseason, Monroe has taken a step back this year for the Pistons. Their crowded frontcourt of Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond isn't working out, and Detroit should be open to the idea of trading Monroe. Cleveland owns four first-round draft picks the next two years they could use as trade chips, as well as some good, young talent.
If the Pistons refuse, the Cavs could also ask about Omer Asik of the Houston Rockets, Enes Kanter of the Utah Jazz or Spencer Hawes of the Philadelphia 76ers. All could become available for the right price.
Cleveland should be very active at the trade deadline, with the goal of still making the playoffs this spring.These three moves would help to improve the team now, while adding cap space and draft picks for the future.
More articles you may like:
- 3 Trades Cavaliers Should Make Before Deadline
- Anthony Bennett a Bust or Young Star?
- Should Cavs Deal for Pistons' Greg Monroe?
Greg Swartz is a Northeast Ohio native who covers the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA on the Yahoo Contributor Network and Bleacher Report. You can find a collection of his articles here and join him on Twitter for more NBA news.
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