With ability to opt out at season's end, trade rumors swirl around talented big man.
By SAM AMICOFS Ohio
INDEPENDENCE -- It’s the week of the NBA trading deadline, and if you’re a soon-to-be free agent, you can expect your name to hit the rumor mill.
The Cavaliers have several players who fit that description, and none are bigger than power forward
Technically, Speights won’t become a free agent unless he decides to exercise the option on his contract at season’s end. It gives him the ability to opt out and seek a bigger deal.
In the world of pro sports, that’s almost always a no-brainer. Particularly if you contribute like Speights has with the Cavs.
Since arriving in a trade with Memphis last month, Speights has added a veteran presence and a little bit of an edge off the bench. In 10 games with Cavs, he’s averaging 13.0 points and 6.4 rebounds, and is shooting 86 percent from the free-throw line.
So, yes, other teams would love to get their mitts on the guy. That’s especially true of playoff-bound teams that could use him as an end-of-season loan of sorts -- then allow him to walk in free agency if the price is too high.
The Cavs are well aware of this predicament. They really like Speights, and would prefer to keep him. But they also like the financial flexibility that they currently possess.
The question is, do they trade Speights before Thursday’s 3 p.m. EST deadline and get at least a little something in return? Or do they keep him and run the risk of losing him for nothing -- or perhaps worse, potentially having to overpay him?
“That’s up to (Cavs general manager) Chris Grant,” said coach Byron Scott. “I like what Mo’s done, let’s put it that way. If he’s here after Feb. 21, I wouldn’t be unhappy at all.”
Speights also understands the situation. He knows he has no say in anything beyond the possibility of opting out of his contract this summer.
“I love Cleveland. I love these fans,” he said. “I love playing with these kids, these players. Whatever happens Thursday is out of my control. … It’s up to the front office.”
As for the potential of free agency, Speights wouldn’t really say. He prefers to focus on the here and now.
“I’m not looking forward to free agency,” he said. “I’m just trying to win games and get to .500. You can’t live for the past or the future.”
The Cavs realize that, too. But in a few short days, they’ll have to make some decisions -- decisions that will address both their current state and what might lie ahead.
• Sources say the Cavs have not yet come to a conclusion on what they’ll do with Speights, and are likely to wait until the last minute before reaching one.
• Playoff-bound teams drafting in the 20-30 range of the first round are said to be willing to part with a pick in exchange for Speights, sources told FOX Sports Ohio. But none could say for sure if the Cavs are having any such discussions.
• Small forward Omri Casspi, who came to the Cavs as part of the J.J. Hickson trade, is supposedly available. Casspi’s contract, which includes a qualifying offer, expires at season’s end.
• Cavs guards Daniel “Boobie” Gibson and Shaun Livingston, and forward Luke Walton, also possess expiring contracts. No word on whether the Cavs will attempt to move them.
• The Cavs return to action Wednesday at home vs. No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.