The NBA trading deadline passed on Thursday, and the Cleveland Cavaliers were active once again.
GM Chris Grant dealt reserve point guard Ramon Sessions to the Los Angeles Lakers, along with former first round draft pick Christian Eyenga to Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, and the Lakers’ first round pick in June’s NBA draft.
Eyenga was little used and quite frankly a poor choice by then GM Danny Ferry. At the time, Cleveland was a title contender and drafting a project over guys like DeJuan Blair and Sam Young was not what the wine and gold needed.
On the other side, Walton and Kapono were not used often by LA coach Mike Brown.
Walton hasn’t appeared in a game since February 29th, and has only been used nine games all season, averaging just 7.2 minutes per contest. The veteran, who will turn 32 years old at the end of this month, hasn’t been a factor since the 2008-09 season, when he started 34 games.
His contract runs through next year, making this the only bad part of the deal. He is a great passer from the small forward spot, so if he is physically able to play, that could be his biggest contribution, because none of the Cavs’ wings are really good playmakers.
Kapono was released to make room for Manny Harris, and it is unlikely Walton will be on the Cleveland roster at the beginning of next season.
But the biggest part of the transaction is picking up another first round pick, which together with the Cavs’ own picks and a 2nd rounder picked up from New Orleans, could give Grant four choices in the first 40 selections in the draft.
Giving up Sessions was tough, in that he was one of Cleveland’s best players this season. However, he likely wasn’t coming back because there is no doubt he can and should start in the league, and that wasn’t going to happen here with Kyrie Irving on the team.
Cleveland signed PG Donald Sloan out of the D-League. Sloan played in eight games with the Hawks and Hornets earlier this year, and Eric Musselman said he was the best point guard in the league.
Also, here’s hoping Scott gives Harris an opportunity to get on the court because the wine and gold aren’t exactly getting great production out of the #2 guard spot from Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson.
Remember, the Cavs also have two first round picks in the 2013 draft as well, and in the trade they received the right to switch the pick received from Miami for LeBron James with the Lakers choice if it is higher.
Antawn Jamison is still with the team, although he was reportedly involved in talks right up until the deadline. It would have a big win had Grant been able to move the veteran for even more draft picks/younger players on Thursday.
While Jamison and Irving supply a bulk of the scoring for the Cavs, he’s a weak defender and gets handled on the boards by most players he matches up against.
To be sure, Grant and Scott would like to get more scoring out of the wing positions so they can play Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson together at power forward and center. That would be the team’s best option for rebounding and defense.
Although, some downgraded Grant’s move (ESPN’s John Hollinger gave it a D+ because of Walton’s contract), most felt it was the right thing to do.
Grant looks to be following the Oklahoma City plan right now: Get your franchise player (Irving) and accumulate as many first round picks as you can. The Thunder currently have one of the NBA’s best teams.
As we’ve said all along, the success of the Cavaliers comes down to Chris Grant’s ability to judge talent, and so far he’s done a good job. Having more draft picks put more pressure on him going forward.