The Cleveland Cavaliers made their second blockbuster trade in 48 hours, acquiring center Timofey Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets.
The details of the trade:
- Cavaliers get: Timofey Mozgov
- Nuggets get: 2015 first-round pick (protected, from Memphis), 2015 first-round pick (protected, from Oklahoma City)
Two first-rounders is a lot to give up for Mozgov, a 28-year-old Russian rim protector who has one year left on a three-year, $US14-million contract.
Losing those picks limits the flexibility that GM David Griffin previously had in building this roster. The Chicago Bulls have the right to swap first-round picks for Cleveland in 2015 — so whatever pick the Cavs end up getting this year won’t be that good. After that the Cavs don’t have a first-rounder until 2017.
The Memphis pick was a particularly valuable asset because it becomes only top-five protected in 2017 and fully unprotected in 2019.
All of this means that the Cavaliers are now limited in the ways they can improve their roster. First-round picks are so valuable for cap-strapped teams because they’re the only way to get cheap, young players onto the roster. As long as LeBron, Love, and Irving are eating up Cleveland’s cap, the Cavs can only improve by adding veteran role players.
The Cavaliers could have been patient if they wanted to. They could have used both of their first-rounders in 2015 and waited until the Memphis pick lost its protections in 2017. They opted for Mozgov instead.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing! With the two trades this week, the Cavs effectively flipped Dion Waiters, the Memphis pick, and a 2019 second-round pick for Mozgov (a rim protector), Iman Shumpert (a “3 and D” guy), and J.R. Smith (a bench scorer).
Those were all areas of need, and the Cavs filled them.
If you were one of the people who thought Irving-Waiters-LeBron-Love-Varejao was going to be the most dominant unit in the league coming into the season, then you have to love Irving-Shumpert-LeBron-Love-Mozgov.
On paper, the Cavs got significantly better this week, especially on the defensive end where they have struggled so mightily.
But are they now good enough? That’s a big question. This is the incarnation of the Cavs team that’s supposed to win the title. There’s no Plan B.
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