Cleveland Cavaliers: The Team’s Trade Targets Have Clearly Changed

The Cleveland Cavaliers absorbed Kyle Korver’s salary into their $9.6 million trade exception. With that move, some players widely considered to be trade targets have jumped out of their price range.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Mike Dunleavy Jr., Mo Williams and a first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for Kyle Korver, it was more or less assumed that the Cavs had simply matched Korver’s $5.2 million salary with the combined salaries of Dunleavy Jr. ($4.8 million) and Williams ($2.1).

The trade, which is still unbelievable (even to Korver), was seen as a major coup for the Cavs. Not only had the Cavs acquired one of the best shooters in NBA history but they managed to keep their $9.6 million traded player exception intact. The amount of the exception was so high that it would allow the Cavs to add a player like Deron Williams or Rajon Rondo, talented players that aren’t part of the team’s long-term future (for whatever reason), via trade.

However, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cavs $9.6 million trade exception was used to absorb Korver’s salary into the cap.

The Cavs did recoup two separate traded player exceptions after absorbing the salary of Korver into the $9.6 million traded player exception.

Still, what does this all mean?

With David Griffin, fans should expect the unexpected. Nonetheless, what it likely means is that targets such as Williams, Rondo Ricky Rubio and D.J. Augustin aren’t trade targets for the Cavs anymore. While point guards such as Tyus Jones and Ty Lawson have salaries that would fit inside any of those three exceptions but it’s unknown how much interest, if any, the Cavs have in them.

The Cavs are probably going to wait and see what Mario Chalmers, Jarrett Jack and Norris Cole look like when they’re healthy, giving each of the three a look-over in private workouts before making a decision on who will be the backup for the playoffs and possibly through the next year as well.

If that doesn’t work out how the team would like, meaning that none of the three look ready to return to the court and make a positive impact for the team, the Cavs could begin to be serious buyers on the buyout market. There, a point guards like Rondo may be their best bet as his saga with the Chicago Bulls continues to paint him in a positive light but not with a stroke that places him in the plans for Chicago’s future. Remember, Lue was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics from 2009-2013 and Rondo played for him in every one of those seasons. Lue and Rondo also share a mutual friend in Doc Rivers.

Rondo was also reportedly a player the Cavs had interest in and, with Dwyane Wade on the team the Cavs likely have a better idea of Rondo’s role in the situation than most teams. After a buyout, Rondo would be coming to the Cavs of his own accord and essentially preventing any excuses about not knowing what his role is. Just the way the Cavs would like it.

While the Cavs aren’t rushing to find a backup point guard, LeBron James is averaging 37.1 minutes and 4.0 turnovers per game. Kyrie Irving is averaging 38.2 minutes per game this month.

In November, Lue had this to say to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin regarding the amount of minutes James has been playing for the Cavs this season on a nightly basis:

“We wanted to get him low, but he said he wanted to ramp him up early and then kind of tailor him down in January, February, [around] our All-Star break … So right now he said he wants to be between 36 and 38 minutes a night and then around the All-Star break start tailoring them down. So he’s right where he wants to be right now.”

James’ minutes (and turnovers) are numbers that will go down with the acquisition of a point guard. Irving will get some much-needed rest as well.

That’s a problematic point guard situation is, especially when considering the aforementioned statistics and the fact that the Cavs only average 21.6 assists per game.

The depth in their frontcourt is big, big problem as well.

The Cavs rank 20th in total rebounds with 44.3 total rebounds per game. Love, James and Tristan Thompson, Cleveland’s best rebounding trio, average 28.7 total rebounds per game. They also rank 28th in the league in blocks per game with 4.0. After Thompson (1.1 blocks per game) steps off the floor the Cavs have a steep drop-off in rim-protection as Channing Frye only averages 0.4 blocks per game. In addition, Frye is only managing to gather 3.2 rebounds per game.

To that point, the Cleveland Cavaliers could also stand to add a big man .

Luckily for the Cavs, there are big men that they could trade for that’ll fit into one of those exceptions, such as Alexis Ajinca of the New Orleans Pelicans or Joffrey Lauvergne of the Oklahoma City Thunder. They’re two of the more mobile big men in the league who could both help the Cavs improve their play in the paint and the perimeter. It remains to be seen whether or not the Cavs have any interest in these two either.

One thing is for sure though. The Cleveland Cavaliers are receiving a reinforcement at point guard. They’ll likely get one at center as well. They need both.

Fans will just have to wait and see what happens next.

What do you think the Cleveland Cavaliers will do to acquire a point guard now that they don’t have the assets to trade for some of the big-name point guards in the NBA? Let us know in the comments section or Twitter @KJG_NBA.

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