COMMENTARY | The Cleveland Cavaliers are set to become buyers at this year's trade deadline.
New acting general manager David Griffin has expressed interest in adding talent to the 18-33 Cavaliers, rather than selling off veteran players.
There should be plenty of teams active around the deadline, with 22 of the 30 NBA squads either in the playoffs or within five games of making them.
The Cavs are currently four games behind the Charlotte Bobcats for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland, once thought to be dead and buried, has won its last two games and could make a postseason run with a little help.
By pulling off the following three trades, Cleveland would not only set itself up for the playoffs this season, but be set for years to come.
Here's whom the Cavs should be after, and how they can get the deals done:
Cleveland needs building blocks for the franchise, not just win-now rentals.
Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson potentially fit this description, but Waiters is better as a sixth man and Thompson is still developing his offensive game. The Cavs need a scorer on the wing that excels at playing off the ball and a big man that Irving can dump the ball down to and let go to work.
Fortunately, such players exist.
Cleveland's first target should be Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors. Barnes has been used mostly as the team's sixth man this season after the Warriors signed Andre Iguodala in the offseason.
Barnes is a three-point threat and spot-up shooter who struggles to create for himself on offense. Be it in college at UNC with Kendall Marshall or now in the pros, Barnes needs to be next to a good point guard to maximize his ability. Irving and Barnes already have some history between them, having been named co-MVPs of the 2010 Jordan Brand Classic.
Following a trade, Barnes could immediately step into the starting small-forward role and hopefully remain there for a long time.
Monroe will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and apparently the Pistons are willing to match any offers for him. Dealing for Monroe won't be easy, but it's definitely worth pursuing for the Cavs. Monroe is part of a logjam at the power forward/center positions for Detroit, which also includes Andre Drummond and Josh Smith.
The Cavs already have Tristan Thompson at power forward, but need someone like Monroe to play center. The 6-11, 250-pound Monroe has a PER of 19.7 while playing center, as opposed to 17.0 at power forward (via 82games.com).
Let's start with Barnes, as he's more likely to be moved than Monroe.
The Warriors had to give up four draft picks, including two first-rounders, in order to acquire Iguodala so they'd certainly like to get some back.
They also like Jarrett Jack, who averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 assists off the bench for them a season ago. Putting the two together, a deal could go like this:
Cavaliers Receive: F Harrison Barnes
The Warriors shore up their bench, plus add two draft picks this summer. The Orlando pick is currently slated to fall 32nd overall, just two spots out of the first round. This would be big for Golden State, as it doesn't own a pick in this year's draft.
The second part becomes a little trickier, as a deal for Monroe would have to be split into two separate trades and involve the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns become involved because they hold as many as four first-round picks in the 2014 draft. They also have the expiring $14.5 million contract of Emeka Okafor to use as trade bait.
Cleveland could offer them Luol Deng to help bolster their young roster for a playoff run. Deng is great, but is unlikely to re-sign with the Cavaliers this summer. Since it's been less than 60 days since Deng was traded to the Cavs, he can't he dealt in combination with another player. Hence, the need for two trades.
The Pistons would need a serious offer to consider moving Monroe, involving multiple first-round picks. Luckily, Cleveland and Phoenix can offer just that.
Pistons Receive: 2014 first-round pick (via Phoenix Suns), SF P.J. Tucker
Suns Receive: SF Luol Deng
Cavaliers Receive: C Emeka Okafor
The first part of the deal moves the large contracts around, with Deng going to the Suns and Okafor's expiring deal headed to Cleveland. Detroit lands the Suns' own first-round pick this year and a solid role player in Tucker.
Pistons Receive: 2015 first-round pick (choice of Cavaliers, Miami Heat or Memphis Grizzlies), G/F Sergey Karasev, F Earl Clark
Cavaliers Receive: C Greg Monroe
The second part lands the Pistons another first-rounder, this time in 2015. The Cavs have three picks the Pistons can have their choice of, and also throw in Karasev to help build around and the expiring contract of Earl Clark.
After all three trades have been completed, the Cavs will have come away with Harrison Barnes and Greg Monroe while parting with two second-round picks in 2014, a 2015 first-round pick, Luol Deng, Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev and Earl Clark. This provides them with a core of Irving, Dion Waiters, Harrison Barnes, Tristan Thompson and Greg Monroe, while bringing Anderson Varejao, C.J. Miles, Anthony Bennett and Tyler Zeller off the bench.
These moves could not only propel Cleveland into the playoffs this season, but would have it set for years to come.
More articles you may like:
- How Cavaliers Can Save Anthony Bennett's Rookie Season
- Kyrie Irving Wants Out of Cleveland?
- 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.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Harrison Barnes
- Tristan Thompson
- Greg Monroe
- Detroit Pistons