With the NBA Trade deadline less than 72 hours away, trade rumors continue to fly.
One team that seems intent on making a deal is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rumors have been floating around that the Cavs are prepared to be involved in blockbuster trades that would send Kevin Love to New York or Boston. While the Cavs do not need to make a blockbuster move, they do need to shakeup the roster. But, Love isn’t going anywhere and there was never really any chance of a trade as confirmed by ESPN.
Cleveland has won three in a row and is 8-3 since Tyronn Lue has taken over the team. The Cavs are three games ahead of the Toronto Raptors for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and are the top scoring and defensive team in the conference. They are 22-4 at Quicken Loans Arena and are 18-9 against teams with a winning record. Cleveland’s next five opponents have winning records, starting at home against Chicago on Thursday – the Cavs are 0-2 against the Bulls this season.
Cleveland’s got their “Big 3,” and while LeBron James hasn’t put up his typical gaudy numbers, Kyrie Irving has been sensational since returning to the court. Irving has poured in 32 and 35 points, respectively, the last two games and is averaging 28.2 points, 6.6 assists, 2.8 rebounds, one steal, and 0.2 blocks in 36 minutes per contest over his last five games. Though Love has been fantastic on the boards this year, he has struggled with his shooting and on the defensive end. The Cavs are 19-6 this season with Love, James and Irving in the lineup together.
Tristan Thompson has been a monster on the offensive glass and is a very effective scorer close to the hoop. Thompson is also a good low-post defender. JR Smith is a scorer who is a very good three-point shooter. Matthew Dellavedova, who has missed the last five games with a hamstring, and Iman Shumpert have been solid off the bench but Shumpert has struggled scoring recently, as he has not reached double-figures since Jan. 18. Mo Williams, James Jones and Richard Jefferson as well as Anderson Varejao also have had their moments this season.
Timofey Mozgov was supposed to anchor the interior for the Cavs on both ends of the floor, however, he has struggled immensely. The 27-year old has done a pretty good job defending the paint; he is holding his man to 48.5 percent shooting from 10-feet and even though he has gotten pushed around a little too much.
Which is why the Cavs have pursued Kosta Koufos according to Marc Stein of ESPN.
Koufos is a solid backup center that excels on the defensive end. He is a very rebounder and shot blocker, averaging over 11 boards and nearly two blocks a game. Koufas has a nice touch around the basket and has posted three double-doubles despite playing just 19.7 minutes a game.
Koufos has started nine games but is currently the second big man off the bench for the Kings after Omri Casspi. Sacramento currently uses DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein in the starting lineup together.
If the Cavs are able to pull off a trade for Koufas, it would be a great get for the them. The 26-year old is in his first year or a four-year contract and is making $7.7 million this season, which Hooprumors reports would fit among the largest of Cleveland’s three trade exceptions – meaning the Cavs may not have to send a player back to Sacramento.
Koufos isn’t the only player the Cavs have been linked to as they are reportedly seeking a D- and 3-guy. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst previously reported that the Cavs were interested in Kyle Korver, Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik. Cleveland also has been linked to Ben McLemore, who the Kings have officially made available.
Korver has struggled getting locked in this season, but he would be an ideal fit for the Cavs. The 34-year old is averaging 9.3 points and has made 1.9 three-pointer per game (38.7 percent from beyond the arc) for his career. Korver makes two triples a game and shoots 43 percent from long-distance. Korver also uses his size to help him defensively.
Asik is a quality defender and an excellent rebounder. The 29-year old is not a shot blocker and is extremely limited offensively. Evans is out for the remainder of the season after undergoing successful knee surgery though McLemore wouldn’t be a bad fit especially if the Cavs trade Shumpert.
[Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press]