Mike Dunleavy Jr. Not Iman Shumpert Is The Cleveland Cavaliers Most Likely Trade Piece
Mike Dunleavy Jr. and not Iman Shumpert could be who finds himself traded as the team looks for a point guard.
With the way the season has started, Mike Dunleavy Jr. has been anything but a quick fit in Cleveland. He’s shooting 30.0 percent on three-point attempts just a season after shooting 39.4 percent on three-point attempts for the Chicago Bulls.
If you ask head coach Tyronn Lue, this has a lot to do with Dunleavy Jr.’s reduced role in Cleveland.
According to The Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd, Tyronn Lue had this to say about Dunleavy Jr.’s slow start: “He’s a great shooter and he’s always been over his career,” Lue said. “You come from playing 32, 34 minutes and being a starter and now you’re coming off the bench when you’re playing 16 minutes a game, it’s tough to try to find your rhythm.”
Dunleavy Jr. isn’t playing nearly as many minutes this season (16.5 minutes per game, 6.2 less than in Chicago) due to the presence of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye in the rotation. This might not be an issue if Dunleavy Jr. had started the season hot but he’s been cold. Shooters need playing time to get in rhythm. In Cleveland, those minutes just aren’t there.
Dunleavy Jr. doesn’t provide the defense of Shumpert, the pull-up ability of Smith, or the length of Frye and he’s essentially a rehashing of Jefferson. That doesn’t make the Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard worthless, just expendable.
Furthermore, as the Cleveland Cavaliers try to put together a package for a backup point guard, it’s Dunleavy Jr. and not Shumpert who could fetch a better player. Dunleavy Jr.’s reputation around the league is stellar. He’s a coach’s son and a Duke alum, two facts that allude to his intelligence on the court. Dunleavy Jr. is also a career 37.5 percent shooter from three-point range and a versatile defender that can play three different positions because of his combination of size and shooting ability. He’s also never made any headlines for off-the-court incidents.
His contract, valued at $4.8 million expires next year. Although the salary escalates to $5.1 in the final season of his contract, it’s a lot less than the $9.6 million that Shumpert’s contract is valued at. Shumpert’s contract expires in two years and he’ll be paid $11 million in the final year of the deal. Asking a team to take that kind of financial commitment to a player they may not value as much as the Cleveland Cavaliers is a dubious proposition at best.
The Cleveland Cavaliers can package Dunleavy Jr. with Jordan McRae, who is a 25-year-old player with talent but needs coaching up and Mo Williams’ expiring contract. The combined salaries add up to $7 million which could fetch them a decent return. Two point guards the Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly targeting with salaries near that $7 million mark are the Dallas Mavericks’ Deron Williams and the Orlando Magic’s D.J. Augustin, according to cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon.
For what it’s worth, Dunleavy Jr. doesn’t seem as close to the Cleveland Cavaliers core group as Shumpert, including LeBron James.
Before the season started, Dunleavy Jr. was told that James was happy to have a player like him on his team in an interview with basketball insider Sam Amico. Dunleavy Jr. replied with, “He said that?”. What’s more, Dunleavy Jr. rarely appears alongside the team in their publicized off-the-field outings, like their excursions to Progressive Field to watch the Cleveland Indians during the World Series. As David Griffin looks to keep the team chemistry going, he doesn’t seem like he’ll be effecting it much by trading Dunleavy Jr. instead of Shumpert.
It remains to be seen if the Cleveland Cavaliers make a trade at all but if they do I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear that Dunleavy Jr. was a part of the deal.
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