Trade likely just the start for Cavs
CLEVELAND — This isn’t it for the Cavaliers.
Instead, the trade that brought Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a draft pick to Cleveland is likely just the beginning.
Cavs general Chris Grant might just be getting started. The man likes and wants to make trades. He has a month to do so in the regular season (the deadline is Feb. 21), and then all summer.
But just look at the armed robbery he pulled off Tuesday. Seriously, imagine this conversation:
Grant: “I’ll give you a guy we never use for two quality reserves and a promising young point guard. But only if you throw in a first-round draft pick.”
Memphis GM Chris Wallace: “Sounds great!”
The conversation didn’t go down that way, but you get the idea. In these days of cap space and luxury tax, trades don’t often have to make good sense. They only have to make good cents.
Clearly, the Cavs possess plenty of both. They still have $4 million in cap space with which to play, as well as three more young players to audition and see what they might become.
For those wondering, Speights is 6-foot-10 and can play both power forward and center. He’s big, he can shoot, he rebounds OK and he's likely to get plenty of minutes — especially with Anderson Varejao out for the season.
Ellington is a 6-4 spot-up shooter, who is capable of filling it up from deep. Selby is a 6-2 point guard and former McDonald’s All-American with explosiveness.
Better than any of that, however, are the contracts.
Speights has a player option at the end of the season. It allows him to opt out and become a restricted free agent ... or he can pick it up and stay with the Cavs for around $4 million.
Ellington’s deal consists of a team option. That makes him a restricted free agent at season’s end. So if another team signs him, the Cavs can match if they see fit. But they don’t have to. Selby is still on his rookie contract. It expires when the season ends.
So not only did the Cavs land three guys who can help the team — they landed three guys who could be gone next season if they don’t.
That's called "flexibility."
As for the draft pick, it’s a little complicated. Just know it won’t become available to the Cavs until 2015. But it could still be available in 2019. It’s also something they can package in another trade, and they very well might.
That's called "an asset."
It's all a result of Grant strategically working the phones, with the trade taking shape a week ago and turning the corner Sunday. It’s something Grant will continue to do, perhaps starting by trying to locate takers for the expiring contracts of Luke Walton, Omri Casspi and Daniel Gibson.
Human nature often means waiting until the last minute. Believe it or not, NBA GMs are humans and not just a bunch of programmed robots. So if the Cavs are able to pull off another deal, odds are it will happen in late February.
Houston has cap space. Phoenix has cap space. The Cavs still have some, too. So plenty of things can play out between now and then, and likely will.
Most of the conversations Grant is having now are the same type of conversations he’ll be having at the trade deadline. His job is to figure out what’s real, what’s not and when to strike.
On Tuesday, the time was right. Grant and the Cavs figured, hey, you’re not going to beat this one. They figured this one is pretty good, so let’s go.
But this isn’t it.
Instead, it appears to be just the start.