As teams around the league frantically completed deals before the trade deadline, the Cleveland Cavaliers stood pat with a roster they began reshaping last month.
Still, LeBron James knows the Cavs are far from a finished product.
Cleveland seeks a 15th victory in 17 tries Friday night as it visits the Washington Wizards, who are still without guard Bradley Beal.
Thursday was a quiet day for the Cavaliers (33-22), who feel they’ve made enough moves to build a winner. They traded Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City in a three-team deal that landed J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from New York on Jan. 5.
Two days later, they acquired big man Timofey Mozgov from Denver for two first-round picks. James returned Jan. 13 after missing eight games with multiple injuries to give Cleveland a unit it feels comfortable with moving forward.
"We made our acquisitions a month or so ago," James said. "We can win a championship with this roster. A team that is healthy at the right time and clicking at the right time can make a huge push. Does it guarantee you that? Of course not, but we have the roster that can challenge any team out there."
The Cavs sit one-half game behind Washington (33-21) for fourth in the Eastern Conference, but James isn’t concerned about playoff position. He realizes each team ahead of Cleveland in the conference standings is in a different situation.
The Cavaliers fell 113-98 at Chicago on Feb. 12 before the All-Star break.
"In order for us to get to where we want to be, we have to challenge ourselves," James said. "We can’t catch Chicago, Washington, Toronto, Atlanta as far as the playoff experience and chemistry. It’s how we can maximize our potential instead of worrying about everybody else."
Coach David Blatt echoed James.
"We’re getting towards crunch time," Blatt said. "It’s not easy, but guys have to play through (minor injuries) as long as it’s not of a debilitating nature. We have to really compete and we’ve got to win games."
Washington won the first meeting 91-78 behind 28 points from John Wall on Nov. 21 before James finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a 113-87 home win Nov. 26.
The Wizards come out of the break having dropped six of eight, including a 95-93 defeat Feb. 11 at Toronto. Beal has missed the last three with a mild stress reaction in his lower right leg that initially was thought to be a toe injury.
He’s been ruled out for this contest, and no timetable has been set for his return. Otto Porter Jr. has totaled 18 points in the two games he’s started for Beal, while Garrett Temple had seven in his first start in that stretch.
Looking to provide an offensive boost to its second unit, Washington traded reserve guard Andre Miller to Sacramento for Ramon Sessions on Thursday in its lone deadline move.
It’s unclear if Sessions will be available Friday against one of his former teams, but coach Randy Wittman knows his squad will have a tough task overcoming Beal’s loss against the Cavs even though the Wizards are 9-3 without him.
"They’re playing at a high level now. They’re healthy," Wittman said. "They’re about where everyone thought they’d be heading into this year. It’s a team that’s playing on all cylinders.
"We just have to keep plugging forward. We know what we have to do to be successful."
Kyrie Irving scored 18 points while holding Wall to a season-low six in the last matchup between the All-Star point guards. Irving had 22 in the first meeting.