The NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday without a single rumor surfacing that involved the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the Raptors made a trade and the Celtics considered plenty, the Cavs were content to simply stand pat.
Here are five reasons that this was absolutely the correct decision.
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Their injured players will return
J.R. Smith has been out since late December with a thumb injury, and Kevin Love recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Both are expected back in the lineup sometime in March, however, which should give them about a month of regular season action to prepare for the run through the postseason.
If either of them was out for the year, the Cavaliers might have had to make a move. But entering the playoffs with their starting lineup intact makes them the favorites to reach the Finals once again.
There weren’t any impact players available
If you wanted the Cavaliers to attempt to trade for a significant star player before the deadline passed, first you need to ask yourself one simple question:
Who was actually available?
Carmelo Anthony would have had to waive his no-trade clause, and even if he was willing to do so, the only way to get him would have been to offer up a younger big man in Kevin Love, which may not necessarily have been beneficial.
The Pacers took calls on Paul George, but there were plenty of reasons that those trade talks were never really serious. Jimmy Butler's name was thrown around, too, but if the Bulls were going to deal their best player, they'd want the combination of draft picks and young talent that the defending champs do not possess.
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They can add reserves in free agency without giving anything up
The Cavaliers weren't looking to make wholesale changes at the deadline, but they were open to adding some complementary pieces. Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut were two Mavericks veterans who could help any team looking to contend this season, but they were always likely to get bought out or traded before the deadline with Dallas struggling to battle for a postseason spot.
Williams has been waived, and Bogut is expected to be soon, after being sent to the Sixers in the trade that brought Nerlens Noel to Dallas. Both players will be targeted by the Cavaliers, and the team won't have to give up a single asset to sign either one.
It’s tough to integrate new players this late in the season
Chemistry is often overlooked when analyzing NBA rosters, but it's a key component for any championship squad. Adding an impact player to the rotation at the trade deadline leaves less than two months for everyone to get on the same page before the playoffs begin, and that's not really enough time to form a cohesive unit capable of taking down the league's elite.
Ken BlazeUSA TODAY Sports
You don’t break up the core of the defending champs
Despite their injury issues this season, the Cavaliers are 40-16, atop the standings in the East. There's simply too much talent on the roster for the team to slide that much, and Cleveland already has proven capable of beating the Warriors when everyone is healthy and the team is at full strength.
The Cavaliers won a title with the trio of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, and as you'll recall, all three players came up with huge individual plays late in Game 7 against the Warriors to seal the 2016 title. You simply don't break up a championship core like that in the middle of the very next season.