By Kaleb Page
In this early stage of the NBA season the Cleveland Cavaliers have had not even close to the start everyone including themselves had expected. With a record of 19-16 this is still a team searching to find what it is and what it wants to hang its hat on night in and night out. As I said it is still very early so things can change and even with injuries to Kyrie Irving and LeBron James this team still is second in their division and fifth in the eastern conference.
For the GM of the Cavaliers David Griffin, managing this team that has so much potential is a huge task. With Irving and James down and the Cavalier faithful starting to wonder what is up with this team in recent weeks; Griffin needed to find something to re-energize not only the team but the fans as well. On Monday night that opportunity presented itself in a trade.
Prior to the game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Cleveland Cavaliers starting shooting guard Dion Waiters was pulled from the line-up. It was then soon broadcast all over the sporting world that a three team deal had been made. This deal would send Waiters to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to the Cavaliers, and the Knicks get three players who have non-guaranteed contracts they can dump at the end of the season to further open up their cap space. Along with the players in the deal, the Thunder are giving the Cavs a protected future first-round draft pick and they are also sending a 2019 second-round draft pick to the Knicks.
Quite the deal that happened on a Monday night in the NBA. This move for the Cavaliers was dissected by ESPN’s Tim Legler and he made it clear that this trade really benefits everyone involved. In his break down on SportsCenter, Legler mentioned that this trade addresses a need the Cavs have when it comes to team defense, and with a guy like Shumpert who adds length along with a defensive mindset to the starting line-up; the Cavs made a great deal. He also went on to mention that the swap of Smith for Waiters is a slight upgrade even though both players do have similar playing styles.
With that said I would have to agree with Legler on this trade being really beneficial for the Cavaliers. When you can get a young guy like Shumpert, who is a rising player in the league known for his perimeter defense, it helps improve what the team is lacking right now. Even though Smith is somewhat a loose cannon no matter what team he is on, he has proven to be an offensive weapon capable of going off at any time. It will be interesting to see if these two pieces are able to pay dividends for this team that expects to be in the finals when it is all over.
I would add though that this might not be the end for the Cavaliers as far as deals go. Even though the deal is great, it does miss the hole that is still their post defense. It is hard to find anyone on the market to fill the void left when Anderson Varejao went down, but the team does need to find some type of presence to shore up the back-end just like it did with this trade that added help to the perimeter.