The Cleveland Cavaliers are eyeing an NBA title, but they know improvements are necessary in order to beat the Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs. So they’re actively trying to upgrade their roster through numerous trade talks. Timofey Mozgov and a $10.5 million trade exception have frequently come up in trade rumors, but the question remains what the Cavs want in return. Recent reports have shed light on whom Cleveland thinks will bolster their chances, so let’s look at 5 trade targets as well as a potential contract-buyout player who could find their way to the Cavs.
1. Ben McLemore, SG Sacramento Kings
The Cavs need more outside shooting to contend with Golden State, and they’re looking in the direction of Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore. The 23-year-old, who was picked seventh in the 2013 NBA Draft, is playing a career-low 21 minutes per game. However, he’s also shooting a career-best 37.2% from the three-point line. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that agents want to get their clients out of the toxic situation in Sacramento. Shooting guard is a position that Cleveland has solid depth at with both J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. But if Smith chooses to leave in free agency this summer, McLemore is an adequate replacement who’d also contribute this year too.
2. Jared Dudley, SF Washington Wizards
One player that Cleveland would reportedly “love” to get on their roster is Jared Dudley. A CBS report explains that the Cavaliers have been actively seeking a trade for Dudley. This move definitely makes sense for the Cavs since the 8-year veteran could provide nice depth at forward, and he shoots 46.6% from three-point territory. The issue here remains what the Wizards would get in return for Dudley. They don’t really need Mozgov, but perhaps they’d go for the Cavs’ trade exception or expiring contracts.
We mentioned Korver being a possible trade in a recent article because Atlanta is taking calls for the veteran small forward. Although NBC Sports believes that any of the first three players mentioned in this article are long shots for Cleveland, Korver isn’t such a crazy proposition. Only a contender would want the 34-year-old and his numbers are down as well. So perhaps some of the Cavaliers’ limited trade assets could tempt the Hawks. But Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer does like Korver quite a bit.
4. Trevor Ariza, SF Houston Rockets
Ariza is another player who was mentioned in the NBC report. Cleveland could really benefit from adding a multi-skilled veteran like Ariza at forward. And the 30-year-old would certainly help with outside shooting since he hits three’s at a 37.7% clip. But what would Cleveland send over in a trade? Houston is a franchise at a crossroads, meaning they might look to surround James Harden with different talent or completely blow up their roster. In the latter case, maybe draft picks and/or the trade exception would interest the Rockets.
5. Omer Asik, C New Orleans Pelicans
ESPN’s Brian Windhortst tweeted that Cleveland is also interested in Omer Asik, which doesn’t really make much sense. The Turkish player definitely rebounds well in limited minutes, but he doesn’t really offer anything more than the combination of Mozgov and Anderson Varejao. In fact, one could argue that both of these players are on par or even better than Asik at this point. And with the Cavs looking to run more these days, we can’t seem them having much use for Asik.
There were rumors last year that the Cavaliers could look to acquire Joe Johnson before the deadline. That never happened, but the 6’7″ small forward remains on Cleveland’s radar. In fact, Fear the Sword reported that the Cavs would “snatch up” Johnson. The key here, though, would be Johnson agreeing to a buyout with the Brooklyn Nets. But the drawback for him would be taking far less in the buyout than the back half of the $24.9 million salary he’s earning this year. Don’t expect Johnson to give away upwards of $10 million for the ‘chance’ at a championship.