The more significant point now though is how will this affect Tristan Thompson's future with the Cavaliers?
According to a report by Dave McMenamin, Anderson Varejao has been announced as the starting center to begin the season by head coach David Blatt:
This is somewhat significant news, as many were under the assumption that Tristan Thompson would start at center to allow for more rest for Andy on a consistent basis. It appears that over the course of the preseason, Thompson was unable to impress Blatt, which shouldn't surprise many people at this point and time. His brief spout of turmoil with a sideline reporter likely didn't help Tristan's case.
The more significant point now though is how will this affect Tristan Thompson's future with the Cavaliers?
Alright folks. To kick off the 2014-2015 season, Chris and I thought that we'd have a little fun giving our predictions for the season. We'll revisit these predictions periodically throughout the season, and probably make some preposterous bets with one another based on who does better in their predictions. So without further ado, here they are!
In light of the recent trades the Cavs have made, how much flexibility this roster has for the future has been brought into question. More importantly however, is it even necessary?
In hopes to address these concerns, Chris and I visited our not-so-round table (technically a line to anyone that follows geometrical principles) to discuss the roster flexibility.
The Cavs have made another trade that will shock the NBA world!...
Well, not quite yet, but we'll get into that. Per Cavs.com, the Cavs have acquired Keith Bogans, as well as two second round picks (from Sacramento: 2015, 2017, both top-55 protected) from the Celtics. What did we give up for the 34 year-old swingman? The trade looks something like this:
You might begin to ask yourself, "Why would the Cavs essentially trade away 3 years of second round picks (including the '15 pick used to get the Jazz trio) and 3 young players for a 34 year-old that played in a grand total of 6 games on the CELTICS last year?".
Two words: cap space. Bogans has a very interesting contract that has full non-guarantees in both the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons. Not only that, but the contract is for a full $5.25M each year. While it might seem like mortgaging the future at first to anyone looking at this trade at face value, this move may be able to propel the Cavs even greater down the line with proven assets.
In essence, the Cavs are currently over the salary cap at $76.61M (approximately) on the books. The luxury tax is actually set at $76.829M, meaning that the Cavs are just squeaking under, which allows them a little more leniency in the upcoming offseason. The more important thing to note is that, because the Cavs are over the salary cap, they are unable to sign players in free-agency without using exceptions (bi-annual or mid-level) or at the veteran minimum. What they can do however is trade players.
Both Haywood and Bogans have non-guaranteed contracts for next year, totaling nearly $15.7M that are prime for clearing cap space for teams. You can essentially chalk those contracts up to a blank check for players on teams near the cap who are looking for a salary dump. There's a chance that Bogan's contract could be used during this year in the same manner, but don't look for that to happen unless they are in desperate need. This move positions the Cavs to have almost four near-max players on the same roster for years to come. Can you imagine Marc Gasol on this team?
Shrewd move Griffin.
If you happened to be in a coma for the past month, this may come as a bit of a shock to you, but the Cavs now have Kevin Love as their starting power forward. We have been waiting for this trade to come to fruition for a grand total of around a month, when the original trade rumors of Wiggins and Bennett for Love originally came to light.
Now that the moratorium on trading Andrew Wiggins (due to the dated 30-day waiting period after signing rookie draft picks) has ended, Wiggins has been officially flipped along with Anthony Bennett and our first round pick from Miami. As a part of the trade, Philadelphia also has gotten involved in the trade, though not for Bennett as originally expected. Minnesota ends up with Wiggins, Bennett, and Young (a pretty solid haul) for Love, while Philly gets Luc Mbah a Moute and Alexy Shved, along with the Miami #1.
Basketball reigns supreme in Indiana. It is the word, the will and the way in a state known as much for Larry Bird and Hoosiers, as for its fields of corn and grain.
Last year, a team of grind it out, super lengthy ballers gritted their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. They had stumbled into the post-season and then nearly stumbled out of the post-season. They were the number one seed in the Eastern bracket and they were very nearly knocked off by an Al Horford-less Atlanta Hawks team.
But the Pacers weren't built to beat the Hawks. They didn't gave two shits about Atlanta (and it showed). They were constructed to beat the Miami Heat, a rival so far from them on the spun coil of character that there was legitimate hatred boiling between two towns over a child's game.
For Miami, the Pacers were an annoyance. Indiana was the most persistent challenger to their pre-annointed throne of best team in basketball. As much as Indiana might talk smack and blow in opponents' ears, they were little more than children throwing stones at a King. The Heat were more concerned with their likely opponents in the next round---the San Antonio Spurs.
For Indiana, Miami was a glitzy team of wanna-be's. A collection of talents that had taken the "easy way out." There's a reason Indiana came to the arena wearing T-shirts emblazoned on the front with "Blue Collar." They were representing a whole state of men and women that were grinders, doers, hard workers that had no easy option out. They thought of themselves as the antithesis of everything Miami and its "Big Three" represented.
So when the Pacers and Heat met in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, the second such occurrence in as many seasons, there was a sense of something coming to fruition. And Indiana's crescendo looked something like this:
It's time to re-examine the Eastern Conference's Central Division.
Enough has changed, and is set to change, that the division desperately needs another breakdown. In the past month or so, a few major things have happened:
If you haven't heard about the most exciting news of the past month or so (if it weren't for LeBron, this would be the most exciting news pretty much in Cavs history), Adrian Wojnarowski just dropped one of his notorious WojBombs on us:
The details of the deal essentially boil down to Wiggins, Bennett, and a 2015 1st round pick (which has to be either from Memphis or Miami, due to the Stepien rule that dictates 1st round picks cannot be traded for consecutive future years) for Kevin Love. No other contracts are reported as being included, which means that Thompson, Waiters, and the expiring deals that were obtained for Carrick Felix are still on the team. Furthermore, Love has said he will opt out of his contract in 2015 to sign a 5 year extension. While it's not binding, this is the best guarantee we've heard so far.
So, let's take a moment to let this news sink in. The Cavs now have Kyrie for 6 years. They have LeBron for two years, with an understanding that he will probably finish his career here. Now we have Love for 6 years. The window is now wide open. For probably 6 years. Not to mention that we still have Thompson, Waiters, and all of our future first rounders aside from 2015. HOLY $#!?.
And if all that's too much to handle already, hold tight:
So take a moment to mop up your tears for Wiggins. We're all sad that he won't be a Cavalier, but then step back, take a deep breath, and realize that the Cleveland sports curse may have it's back against the wall. 1964, your days are numbered for being the last championship.
With the silence on the Love trade talks that has gone on since Wiggins signed his rookie deal, I figured that this might be a great time to bring out some wild speculation. While it's being reported the Chicago is putting out some firm offers to the Timberwolves that includes some combination of 3 of the 4 players Gibson, Mirotic, Butler, and McDermott, Minnesota obviously is still holding out for more. Further reports are coming out that Minny is very interested in adding Thaddeus Young to replace Love if a trade does indeed go through. This throws a very interesting twist into this saga that could very well end up with the Cavs landing Love, even if the cost may seem a bit high.
Here's the trade that I propose the Cavs put on the table:
CLE: Kevin Love, Gorgui Dieng
PHI: Dion Waiters, J. J. Barea, MEM 2015 1st round pick (through CLE)
MIN: Thaddeus Young, Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, MIA 2015 1st round pick (through CLE)
While this might seem like a price pretty steep to pay to get Love on the Cavs, you have to consider the outcome of the trade. First of all, you will have successfully assembled a "Big-3" in the prime/pre-prime of their careers, albeit at the sacrifice of some promising young players. Second, I believe that Waiters will end up getting the short stick on the team if he remains with the Cavaliers, assuming a Love trade goes through that does not involve him. Irving and LeBron are both very ball-dominant players by instinct, which doesn't leave much time for Waiters to find his place to control the offense. Waiters also seems to be slightly put-off by the idea of coming off the bench again, even though he has said that he would do whatever is best for the team.
In the long run, this deal gives all three teams good opportunities to move in the directions that they want to continue on. Philadelphia can continue to tank while developing a young, promising backcourt of Waiters and MCW. Minnesota can try to push for a playoff spot with Young and have some promise for the future in Wiggins and Bennett. Cleveland gets the third major piece of the puzzle in Love as well as a promising young rim protector that will shore up any defensive liabilities that Love may bring with him. As a side note, another possibility for this trade would be to swap out Dieng (Minny really likes him and his potential) and add in Turiaf and Glenn Robinson III to cover some of the void at the C and SG positions.
So what do you think readers? Do you like this idea? Hate it? Have any of your own proposed trades?
Ah Carrick, we hardly knew ye. Seriously. We saw about 38 minutes of you in the NBA in total.
For those of you that may have missed it, Carrick Felix, the Cavaliers 33rd overall pick last year, was dealt late last night in a move to create more leniency financially to make the Love deal work:
For those of you unfamiliar with any of the players involved in this trade, it's for good reason. John Lucas III, PG, is probably the closest player many of you would have any familiarity with, and he spent most of his prime overseas. Malcolm Thomas is a 6'9" PF who went undrafted in the 2011 NBA draft. Thomas has played a total of 23 games in the NBA over his 3 year career for a grand total of 135 minutes of court time. The final player, Erik Murphy, is a 6'10" PF from Florida that was the 49th pick of the 2013 draft. Even though he has played in 24 total games, Murphy only averaged 2.4 M/G.
So why trade away a future 2nd round pick as well as last years' second rounder? All three players received in this deal have non-guaranteed contracts that can be waived before the season starts. Furthermore, Carrick Felix only had a cap hold of $816,482, whereas the total incoming salary was $3,364,645, meaning the Cavs gained nearly $2.5 million in trade fillers that can be waived by the team receiving them in a trade.
The reason this is important is that the Cavs are currently over the salary cap and cannot receive any more than 125% plus $100,000 of what they send out in a trade. Currently, the reported trade on the table to Minnesota is Wiggins/Bennett/Future Firsts. Bennett has a cap hold of $5,563,920 while Wiggins will be signed to a contract that must follow the rookie salary scale. With this scale, Wiggins can be signed to a first year amount of 120% of his slot (#1 overall), meaning the maximum would be $5,510,640.
With Love's salary of $15,719,063, the Cavs would need to put together at least $12,495,250 in order to make the trade work under the current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement). Wiggins and Bennett make up $11,074,560 of the total, leaving a $1,420,690 gap in salary (Note: future picks cannot count towards salary cap). This trade essentially made it possible for a simple trade of Carrick Felix to cover that gap. Now the Cavs can trade Lucas (and possibly Thomas and Murphy as well) in order to make the trade work from a financial perspective. Personally, I think that Murphy may stay on the roster to give the team a bit more depth and flexibility in the front-court, even though he has had extremely limited on-court time.
All of this does seem to lend itself to the notion that this trade will occur. The biggest domino left to fall though is Wiggins signing his contract, which makes much more sense for salary purposes, allowing the Cavs to hang on to Waiters and Thompson even with this deal. Unfortunately, along with signing his contract, Wiggins could not be traded for at least 30 days. This is not to say that the deal could not be "completed" before that time, but it will not be official until then.
So what do you think Cavs fans? Is a Wiggins/Bennett/Lucas/Future Firsts deal worth it for Love?
Can you win a championship this year with a Kyrie/Waiters/LeBron/Love/Andy lineup?
Was LeBron's excluding of Wiggins and Bennett in his "I'm Coming Home" article foreshadowing of this very event? (Check his shoutouts in the 4th to last paragraph)
Buckle up, we're still in for the second half of a crazy offseason.
All salary information courtesy of Spotrac.com.