The endless rumor mill that is the NBA trade season is in full swing which means I get to play pretend GM and attempt to find the Cavaliers the small forward that they so desperately need.
The position has been desolate here in Cleveland ever since LeBron bolted town, but since winning games never seemed like the top priority in previous seasons it was easy enough to ignore. Now, the Cavaliers are in the midst of the ugliest playoff hunt that anyone can recall and they’re going to need some production from the 3 spot at some point if they are going to further their cause.
Alonzo Gee is barely even a legitimate NBA rotation player let alone a starting small forward, and yet for reasons unbeknownst to me, he continues to start. Chris Grant brought in “My Name is Earl Clark” in the Summer to compete with Gee for the starting spot and though he has played slightly better than Gee, due mainly to his ability to hit a three point shot, he seems to lack a basic basketball IQ at times and this poor decision making has landed him a spot coming off the bench. The three guard lineups the Cavaliers run out are cute and all, and they are sometimes even effective, but they are using them with all too much regularity.
So, with my GM pants pulled up, I’ve targeted some possible players for the Cavaliers to fill the 3 spot.
The Raptors would seem to be in the process of a rebuild as their new GM Masai Ujiri has already shipped out two of the biggest mistakes from the previous regime, Rudy Gay and Andrea Bargnani. There are rumors that both DeRozan and point guard Kyle Lowry are on the trading block as well. DeRozan is 6’7 and can play either the shooting guard or small forward position. He’s only 24 years old and is in the first year of a four year deal that will pay him 9.5 million dollars each season. His general play has improved each season in Toronto as he’s taken on the majority of the scoring responsibility and is currently at 21.4 points per game for the season. He’s a solid mid-range shooter and a very effective slasher who likes to get to the free throw stripe where he shoots above 80% from. He has improved significantly as a passer and a defender in this his fifth NBA season, though he’s not amazing at either. Three point shooting is the major blemish on his resume. He is shooting a meager .333% from beyond the arc this season, which might be too much of a downside for a team that desperately needs shooting from the small forward position like the Cavs.
If there are any buyers before this trade deadline for the former #2 overall pick out of Ohio State than it is hard to imagine he’ll remain a Sixer. He is finishing up the final year of his rookie contract and will be a restricted free agent in the offseason which gives the team that owns his rights headed into free agency an advantage in holding onto them if they so wish. Sam Hinkie, the new 76ers GM, seemingly is looking to rebuild in Philadelphia and the disappointing Turner doesn’t look to be part of that rebuild. He is already 25 and, like DeRozan, is much more of a slasher than the shooter that the Cavaliers need, shooting an awful .300% from beyond the arc. He is having his best season as a pro, however, averaging almost 20 points per game and shooting more efficiently from the field than he has in any other season despite taking more shots than ever before. Turner is in all likelihood going to be cheaper in a trade than DeRozan seeing as he is older and entering restricted free agency, but his inability to shoot the three in a league that is progressively favoring that shot more and more is going to make him a poor fit for most teams.
The Boston Celtics may or may not be in the midst of a rebuild, but if they are Jeff Green is in all likelihood their most immediate trade asset seeing as Rajon Rondo is still recovering from an ACL injury. The 27 year old Green has been very effective for the Celtics this season, averaging 16.5 points per game as well as shooting above 40% from three. Green is also rather versatile in that he can play the power forward position in small ball lineups. He has two years left on his contract after this season for the reasonable price of 9.2 million per season and represents the best fit for this Cavaliers roster out of these three long term solutions to the small forward position.
Deng is surely the best two way player on this list. The problem is he is also the oldest and most expensive. His contract expires at the end of the season and though the Cavaliers would own his Bird Rights if they acquired him, he would still cost a lot to resign considering he is putting up huge numbers with Derrick Rose out for the season again. Mike Brown would surely love to have him for his defensive ability, but like a few of the other forwards on this list, he lacks the ability to be a three point threat, shooting below 30% from three.
The Cavaliers don’t necessarily need to find their future small forward right now, but upgrading the position in the short term would definitely help their mission to make the playoffs in the East and Marvin Williams would be a great place to start. He is playing for the worst team in the NBA in the Utah Jazz, has a deal that expires at the end of the season, and is shooting above 40% from three. Since his deal is expiring and the Jazz aren’t going anywhere this year, they would likely take whatever they can get for him. When looking at a player who would only fill the small forward spot for the rest of this season the Cavaliers don’t want to go after anyone who would take a real asset to get like a Luol Deng.
Special for NewsNet5.com. Joe Mastrantoni writes for the "The Defend Cleveland" show on www.thedefendclevelandshow.com.