Cavaliers not looking to deal, but always willing to listen
A few notes on the Cavaliers:
1. For the record, the Cavs are not working hard to make any sort of trade, especially any involving big man Anderson Varejao or guard Dion Waiters. While general manager Chris Grant is a willing listener (and admittedly likes to make deals), the Cavs are pleased with the way things have looked lately. And who could blame them? They’ve won five of seven since their 4-12 start. And in one of the two losses (Saturday at Miami), they were in it at the end.
2. Waiters and Varejao have played fairly big roles in the recent success. Waiters’ scoring has been uneven, but he’s performed very well on the road. Good road players are hard to find in this league. He also brings an edginess to the team that’s desperately needed. The Cavs have been impressed with how Waiters stood up for Varejao during spats with Orlando and the L.A. Clippers. Basically, it’s as if Waiters’ play and attitude have won everyone over all over again.
3. Meanwhile, Varejao is difficult to replace. Not just because of the way he plays, but because you still don’t know what you’re going to get from Andrew Bynum. When Bynum’s been a dud, Varejao has picked up his teammates with energy, rebounding, defense and, yes, a reliable 15-foot jumper. As has always been the case with Varejao, other teams rarely offer anything of equal value in return. It’s as if opposing GMs think Grant is willing to just give Varejao away.
4. Speaking of trades, have you seen the numbers put together by Memphis forward Jon Leuer lately? In his last five games, the former Cavalier is averaging 16.4 points and 8.2 rebounds. The Cavs traded Leuer to the Grizzlies last January. In return, the Cavs received forward/center Marreese Speights, shooting guard Wayne Ellington, point guard Josh Selby and a first-round draft pick. At the time, it seemed like the Cavs committed some sort of basketball crime. But Speights and Ellington left in free agency, and Selby is out of the NBA. And no one can say if the pick will be better than Leuer until we see what becomes of each. Bottom line: Right now, Leuer is giving Memphis an obvious edge in this deal.
5. Forward Omri Casspi, who also left in free agency after two miserable seasons in Cleveland, is doing well with Houston. Casspi is a key part of Rockets coach Kevin McHale’s rotation — playing about 22 consistent minutes off the bench and compiling solid averages of 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 46 percent shooting.
6. As for the Cavs, the emergence of Leuer and Casspi isn’t a big deal at the moment (although they could certainly use a big man with Leuer’s stats off the bench). What matters most is the team looks like it is finally adapting to coach Mike Brown’s game plan and starting to gel. And of course, giving the home fans reason to pay close attention.
7. Finally, not only is Grant fine with keeping the current roster intact, but Brown said he has no plans to change the starting five or rotation. Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Alonzo Gee, C.J. Miles and Bynum are winning as starters, with Waiters, Varejao, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, and rookies Anthony Bennett and (especially) Matthew Dellavedova the regulars off the bench. Brown deserves credit for finding decent minutes for all these guys. He’d prefer to stay at nine deep, but right now, it’s 11.