Another All-Star weekend in the NBA has come and gone, and it is starting to look more and more like an event that’s time has passed.
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving was named the MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge, although from the highlights shown on ESPN, you would only know that because of a shot of the Cavs’ rookie holding up the trophy. There really wasn’t any footage from the game showing how he earned the honor.
And the Slam Dunk contest becomes more and more of a joke every year. It would be interesting to know if anyone has ever heard of Jeremy Evans prior to Saturday night.
Anyway, back to the games that count, and the wine and gold plays its last game on a nine game home stand tomorrow night against the Celtics. What does the second half hold for the Cavs?
The trading dealine is coming in the middle of March, and GM Chris Grant will probably be active in the market. The most likely guy to go is point guard Ramon Sessions, because he has value around the league (the Lakers are the most common team discussed), and because he is a restricted free agent at the end of the year.
Sessions wants to have his own team to run, and in averaging 10.4 points and 5.5 assists per game in 25 minutes a night as Irving’s backup, he has shown the rest of the league that there isn’t much doubt he can do it.
Since Anthony Parker’s injury, Sessions has been getting more time and is shooting the ball better as a result. He’s even made 20 three-point shots this season (shooting 43%) after making just 13 in the previous four years he was in the league.
Grant should be able to squeeze a first round pick from his trade partner, but since it would appear only a contender would pull the trigger on a deal at the deadline, it will not be a lottery pick.
Still, it’s a deal the GM has to make.
The other high-profile trade piece Grant has is veteran forward Antawn Jamison. He’s averaging 17.4 points for the year, but 22.6 over the Cavs’ last ten games. He’s also raised his shooting percentage to 44% in the month of February after struggling earlier in the season.
What Grant has to weigh is what is better for the future of the Cavs. Is it better to deal the 35-year-old for young players and draft picks to a team looking for a boost going into the playoffs or would it be more beneficial for the wine and gold to simply let his contract expire after the season and gain valuable cap space.
If the GM can get a solid, young player, particularly a #2 guard or a small forward who can step right into Byron Scott’s rotation for Jamison, he’ll pull the trigger. Getting players now would help speed up the rebuild, as those guys would be able to develop chemistry with Cleveland right now.
Plus, it would open up more playing time for Tristan Thompson, a better defender and rebounder, although he doesn’t score the ball like Jamison. Still, Thompson is most definitely part of the future for Cleveland.
Although the Cavs are just a game and a half behind Boston for the last playoff spot in the East, Grant will probably not let the standings affect his thinking on deals.
This is mostly because his team went into the year knowing this was the first step in the rebuilding process, so although it would be nice to get some post-season experience, Grant’s job is to look at the bigger picture.
The continued development of players like Irving, Thompson, and Alonzo Gee are more important to the future of the Cavaliers. Plus, a playoff push is made more difficult because of the absence of Anderson Varejao, who will be out a few more weeks with a fractured wrist.
There is no question the Cavs are a fun and interesting team to watch on the floor, but that excitement will extend to the front office as the NBA trade deadline approaches.