When major NBA news breaks, Right Down Euclid always has you covered. But when the news could affect the entire landscape, editor Zak Kolesar and contributor Chris Manning will sit down and break it down in a conversational format. Today the series, titled Countertop Conversation, will cover the recent Cavaliers–Grizzlies trade, as well what types of trades could happen as we get closer to the February 21st trade deadline.
On Tuesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers struck a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies that sent little-used forward Jon Leuer to the Memphis Grizzles for forward Marresse Speights, guard Wayne Ellington, guard Josh Selby, and a future first round draft pick. Although the pick has protections, the Cavaliers will own the pick no later than the 2019 NBA Draft. In this Countertop Conversation, Zak and Chris will discuss this season’s NBA Trade Market with a focus on what the Cavaliers can do with the expiring contracts of Luke Walton and Daniel “Boobie” Gibson.
Chris Manning: In my opinion, this was a great trade for the Cavaliers. Marresse Speights is the player I am most excited about. The Cavaliers are thin at the forward position, and the Florida product also has the ability to face up and shoot the jump shot. That skill, which no other active forward has, is something that I expect will earn him an immediate spot in Byron Scott’s rotation. The sleeper here is Josh Selby. With Jeremy Pargo now gone and Shaun Livingston not signed to a long term deal, the Kansas product could sneak in and become the backup to Kyrie Irving long term. And honestly, that is not a bad gig to have.
Zak Kolesar: Receiving the first rounder from the Grizzlies was the most pivotal part of this trade. I know it may not be worth anything this year or the next, but with Cleveland’s chances of receiving a first rounder from the Los Angeles Lakers deteriorating with each frustrating loss, it was important to make up for the (possible) mistake. Even if the stockpiling of picks by GM Chris Grant elicits a mega trade from the front office, this team is still in a very favorable position in regards to their trading/drafting assets. Vastly improving the bench with Wayne Ellington, Speights and Selby while only shipping away Jon Leuer and waiving Pargo was a crucial move. We may find a regular rotator among these three guys.
CM: I don’t think it’s fair to call trading Ramon Sessions for that first rounder with restrictions was a mistake. Like most everyone in the league, Grant assumed that the Lakers would make the playoffs this season. Obviously that may not happen now, but I doubt anyone out there can truthfully claim that they predicted the Lakers would be this bad. I do agree, however, that that first rounder is what makes this trade a real slam-dunk. That pick, even if it comes in six years, will give the Cavaliers a chance to acquire a young piece in what will (hopefully) be Kyrie’s eighth season as a Cavalier. And they could even trade that pick to acquire a player to be a sidekick to Kyrie if that player could be a Scottie Pippen to Kyrie’s Michael Jordan.
ZK: That’s why I said possible mistake. I still think the Lakers will find a way to make it into the postseason, but Grant needed to be aggressive and make a deal like this to improve the present and future of his team. That’s why I believe, with the signing of former North Carolina star Ellington, that Daniel Gibson should be the next player on the trade block. His injuries have kept him from achieving his true potential these past few seasons, and I believe Ellington’s move to Cleveland will give him the boost in his game that he has searched for over the past four seasons. Gibson’s statistics have been declining ever since the first post-LeBron season, but his three-point shooting has still stayed at a respectable level. That’s why I believe that a team vying for the playoffs would be interested in taking Gibson, who is in his final contract year.
CM: I think both Gibson and Luke Walton are going to get looks from teams looking to clear salary and make moves this offseason. Gibson would offer a team like the Brooklyn Nets or the aforementioned Grizzlies a shooter that they need – even if he has struggled of late. Gibson, I think, could net the Cavaliers a first rounder in the right deal. Walton, in my mind, is the wild card. For whatever reason, Coach Scott gives him real minutes, but he is not a piece long term. A team like the Boston Celtics, who may be looking to blow up their roster and then be aggressive this offseason, would be a team I could see making a play for Walton. And honestly, I think salary dump deals are going to be the trend as the deadline approaches.
ZK: As far as Gibson’s worth goes, I think it has really taken a dive this season. The concussion keeping him out of the game for an extended period of time hurt his trade stock, and I’d be happy if we got away with a second rounder at best. If the Cavaliers don’t end up making any moves before the trade deadline, I won’t be mad. This was a really smart move by the Cavaliers front office, and I think it deserves more kudos than it has received already. A bench blindly looking around for answers got (best case scenario) potential role players and formidable backups for close to nothing. Dealing with a team like the Grizzlies with the salary cap on our side should steer the Cavaliers in the right direction in future trades.
CM: As odd as it is to say, the Cavaliers could end up being the biggest player in the trade market. There is no Dwight Howard-type player out there drawing major interest, and a lot of the top-level teams do not have the right assets to make a major move. As I said before, I think teams are going to be making salary dumps, and after February 21st, I think we will know who truly views themselves as contenders for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. When the dust settles, expect teams like the Celtics to drop out, and for there to be eight or nine teams still contending. From the East, it will be Miami, New York, Brooklyn, and Chicago. In the West, I look for Oklahoma City, San Antonito, the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Warriors to be primed to make a real run looking ahead to June.
ZK: I think a lot of the teams that are thinking/believing title are content with their current roster situations. Like you said, the Celtics need to be in championship-or-bust mode due to their aging situation. This team could be among the league’s bottom feeders if they don’t make moves sooner rather than later. If there’s a move to be made, it may include Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol. These are two players that are, right now, under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. I doubt there is a scenario that involves Dwight resigning with the Lakers at the end of the season, so making the best of that situation now should be the approach that the Laker front office is taking. We know that Dwight has fantasized about landing with the Nets, so something is definitely brewing between those two camps.