The 2013-2014 season has not gone as expected for the Cleveland Cavaliers. That culminated in the firing of general manager Chris Grant on Thursday with 33 games left.
Cleveland began the year with a roster comprised of young talent and promise. Instead of getting playoff experience and building towards next year, it doesn’t appear that the Cavaliers will reach the postseason. At 16-33, they have twice as many losses as wins and remain 5.5 games out of the No.8 spot in the Eastern Conference.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has assured that head coach Mike Brown’s job is safe. However, the team could still make some significant changes in the coming weeks.
“I think we’ll be aggressive at the trading deadline -- historically we have, anyway,'' Gilbert said via the Palin Dealer. "I think we will and we potentially have a lot of opportunity there. We’re looking forward to working with David Griffin, and whatever it takes, 24 hours a day for the next two weeks. Hopefully we’ll find opportunities.''
The organization has already made one big trade this season. In January, they acquired Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Andrew Bynum and draft picks. After being one of the Bulls’ best players for the past few years, Deng has struggled to adapt in Cleveland. His shooting percentage, as well as his points, rebounds and assists average is down from his time in Chicago. The Cavs have played even worse with him in the lineup.
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Since a playoff berth seems more and more unlikely as each day goes by, Cleveland must decide what they want to do by the trade deadline. The date is in less than two weeks, and the best course might be for Cleveland to unload players in exchange for assets and draft picks. Gilbert, though, won’t commit to the team being buyers or sellers.
"I don’t think we’ve looked at it that way,'' Gilbert said. ”We’ve looked at it as, 'Is there a move that can be made that can improve the short-term, the long-term prospects of the Cleveland Cavaliers?' That’s the prism of how we look at every potential deal.''
Realistically, the Cavaliers probably won’t be looking to add players for a playoff push. According to ohio.com, there’s a good chance the roster will “face some upheaval” by the Feb. 20 deadline. A report by ESPN says point guard Kryie Irving wants out, but Cleveland isn’t looking to trade their best player. Instead, Dion Waiters could be headed for another team. The ohio.com report states that the shooting guard may be wearing out his welcome within the organization.
In his second season after being drafted fourth overall, Waiters has not developed into a reliable scoring option. He’s averaging 14 points per game, but shooting just over 41 percent from the field. However, he’s still just 22 years old and could have some value on the trade market.
Entering the season, there was a lot of talk that LeBron James might rejoin the Cavs in the summer, though it’s seems less and less likely that the four-time MVP would sign with Cleveland. There have also been rumors that James would consider going to the Los Angeles Lakers. The team should have enough money to offer a free agent a max contract.
In order for the Lakers to free up money under the salary cap, they won’t be able to re-sign Pau Gasol. L.A. could lose the big man even before the offseason. They’ve reportedly been in discussions with the Phoenix Suns about Gasol. Los Angeles would get Emeka Okafor’s expiring contract and a first-round draft pick in return.
Los Angles is open to trading Gasol, but they are in no hurry. They reportedly want a good first-rounder if they are going to deal someone of Gasol’s caliber and not get under the luxury tax threshold in the process.
The veteran should be a hot commodity as the deadline approaches, assuming he’s healthy. Gasol is dealing with a groin issue that’s expected to keep him out until after the All-Star break.
Like the Cavaliers, the Lakers’ season will probably end after 82 games. They’ve been without an Injured Kobe Bryant for almost the whole year and are just a half-game out of last place in the Western Conference.