Cleveland Cavaliers trading Timofey Mozgov?

timofey-mozgov-cleveland-heroWhile most news surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers centers on their much-anticipated matchup with the Golden State Warriors tonight, the Cavs are also fielding questions about trading center Timofey Mozgov.

An unsung hero during Cleveland’s deep playoff run last year, Mozgov’s role has been reduced severely in the 2015-16 season. Apparently his role has been reduced enough that the Cavaliers think they might get a more-valuable player through a trade.

A report from Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski earlier this week suggests that Cleveland has “started to make calls on the market” for their backup center, “who could appeal to Western Conference contenders.”

However, it’s worth noting that CBS Sports claims Cleveland has no interest in moving Mozgov, considering that they gave away two future first-round draft picks last season to acquire the Russian center.

timofey-mozgov-cleveland-hero-1But if this is true, it could change pretty quickly if the 7’1″ big man continues under-peforming. Mozgov has had trouble hanging on to close-range passes this season and he’s been foul prone too. The numbers don’t do him any justice either since the Cavs are scoring 8.5 points more per 100 possessions when Mozgov isn’t on the floor. So far he’s averaging 6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 17.8 minutes per game.

Cleveland largely acquired Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets last season because they needed a rim protector. And he did a solid job at this, averaging 1.2 blocks per game in 25 minutes. He was even better in the postseason, blocking 1.8 shots per game to go along with 10.6 PPG and 7.3 RPG.

Times have changed for Cleveland, though, since their full lineup is healthy right now. The play of Tristan Thompson has made Mozgov more of a shot-blocking luxury than an important cog in the team. The 6’9″ center is averaging 7.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG and shooting 56.1% from the field in 27.6 minutes per game. The only catch is that Thompson isn’t quite the rim protector that Mozgov is since he only averages 0.4 blocks each game.

Nevertheless, speculation is high enough to suggest that the Cavs will at least field offers for Mozgov. Contenders that could possibly find a need for a big center include the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and the Indiana Pacers. But once again, anything at this point is just speculation until Cleveland actually makes a serious move with Mozgov.

Cleveland Cavaliers Betting: LeBron James promises to come off Bench if needed

lebron-james-benchEven going back to his days as a teenage rookie, LeBron James has never come off the bench during his 11-year NBA career. However, King James volunteered to do so if that’s what his team needs to win. And he cited teammate Tristan Thompson’s willingness to do so as reason why he would also make the same sacrifice. Here’s a look at what he told reporters following today’s practice about the matter:

“Whatever benefits the team, I’m for. Tristan [Thompson] is the same. And the rest of the guys are starting to understand that. I think we’re getting it. I think we understand that, at the end of the day, not one individual has ever won a championship. It’s all about a team. For me, being the leader of the team, it doesn’t matter, whatever this team needs in order for us to win.

“I’ll come off the bench. I’m serious. I’ll come off the bench and, if it helps our team, that’s what it’s about. It’s about a team and how we all fit together, how the five guys on the court fit together, how the eight guys or 10 guys on the bench all help the guys that’s on the floor, and so on and so on. So, sacrifice is the biggest word in team sports, but it’s not about saying it. It’s about doing it. It’s about living it.”

lebron-james-bench-1Cleveland is on an 11-game winning streak right now, and James is averaging 26.2 points, 7.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds so far. So there’s not much chance that he’ll really be coming off the bench any time soon. However, his point is that he’s willing to do anything to ensure that the Cavs keep winning.

As alluded to before, center/power forward Thompson has needed to make a big sacrifice, vacating his starting spot in favor of 7-footer Timofey Mozgov. And so far, Thompson is still playing well in a reduced role. Veterans James Jones, Shawn Marion and Mike Miller have also seen their playing time fluctuate as head coach David Blatt tinkers the lineup to find the perfect combination.

Perfection is definitely a hard thing to come by in the NBA. However, it appears that the Cavs are getting closer after making new additions like Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. This new influx of defensive and scoring (Smith) talent puts Cleveland in a much better position to contend for a title now, which has been the goal ever since LeBron decided to come home.

Will the Luol Deng Trade push Cleveland into the Playoffs?

luol-deng-cavs-tradeOver the past couple of weeks, Cleveland Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum has been the league’s hottest trade commodity. And no, it’s certainly not Bynum’s 8.4 PPG and 5.3 RPG that had teams clamoring for his services. Instead, teams merely wanted to sign him and waive him to save salary cap room.

Well, Cleveland finally found a taker for the disappointing center as the Chicago Bulls gave up two-time All-Star Luol Deng in the deal. In exchange, the Bulls save $15 million in salary and taxes this season by trading Deng and cutting Bynum. They also get a bevy of draft picks from the Cavs, including a first-round pick (via Sacramento), and 2015 and 2016 second-round picks (via Portland). It’s clear that Chicago did a good job of at least getting something in return for Deng, who wasn’t expected to re-sign with the Bulls this summer.

But the immediate winner here is no doubt the Cavaliers. This team came into the 2013-14 NBA season with high expectations. Not only did they sign a former All-Star in Bynum, but they also drafted UNLV’s Anthony Bennett number one overall. These two additions, along with Cleveland’s core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson, were expected to produce the club’s first postseason bid in years.

Instead, what they’ve gotten so far is a 12-23 record and a top pick who’s averaging 2.2 PPG and shooting 27.8% from the field. But the good news is that it’s not too late to turn things around with Deng on the roster.

luol-deng-cavs-trade-1Despite a .343 winning percentage, Cleveland is just 2 and a half games out of a playoff spot. Their chances of making the postseason look even more optimistic when you consider that only three teams really appear to be locks in the weak Eastern Conference.

It’s also worth mentioning that Deng fills the biggest hole on the Cavs’ roster. Irving (22.8PPG, 6.1APG) is a star at point guard, Waiters (15.2PPG, 3.2RPG) is having his best season at shooting guard, Thompson (11.9PPG, 9.8RPG) is a more-than-solid power forward, and Varejao (8.1PPG, 9.6RPG) is still a serviceable center. But their gaping hole has always been Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee trying to fill the small forward role. Both players are shooting less than 40% from the field, and they’re forced to play out of position too.

Enter Deng, who’s averaging 19.0 PPG and 6.9 RPG from the small forward spot. Getting somebody like this to plug in the missing piece of your lineup is huge. More than that, Deng seems to be the guy who’ll finally make Cleveland into a postseason-worthy team. Of course, there’s just one catch here: Deng could only be in a Cavs uniform for half a season.

He’ll definitely test the free agency waters when his contract is up this summer. And with Deng being a 9-year veteran, he’s likely going to want to play for a title contender. But then again, Cleveland could convince Deng that they’re capable of competing for a championship with him in the lineup. Sure this seems like a stretch now, but sometimes one player can dramatically turn around a team’s chemistry.

Above all, the Cavaliers will have plenty of cap space to sign Deng to a long-term deal. Seeing as how many people think that he’ll fetch somewhere in the neighborhood of the 4-year, $48 million contract that Andre Iguodala signed with Golden State last summer, Cleveland can definitely afford to front this bill.