Most NBA observers saw the Cavaliers recent trade with the Memphis Grizzlies as something just short of highway robbery, at least from the talent standpoint.
Yes, fans were told that Memphis made the deal in order to get precious salary cap space to keep both Zack Randolph and Rudy Gay, but Gay was dealt shortly thereafter, so it looks like the new Grizzlies ownership just wanted to save cash.
Meanwhile, Cavs’ GM Chris Grant was able to get two players who can definitely get minutes on a nightly basis in F/C Marreese Speights and G Wayne Ellington and a project in G Josh Selby. Oh, and he also picked up a first round pick.
Immediately, people started speculating that Speights would be a short time member of the wine and gold, and would be dealt before the trade deadline to a contender, probably to get more picks.
That still may happen, but it shouldn’t.
The argument that Speights’ current deal, with a player option for 2013-14, is similar to the situation that Ramon Sessions was in last year ignores a few points.
First, Sessions was never going to start here over Kyrie Irving. Sessions wanted to get playing time, as well as the big money that comes with free agency. He was never going to get that in Cleveland because Irving is a better player.
Sessions is a quality NBA player, and if averaging a career high 27 minutes a night although he isn’t starting.
Speights doesn’t have the league’s reigning Rookie of the Year and an all-star in his second full season ahead of him on the depth chart. In fact, there is no question that Byron Scott needs a big man of Speights’ talent if they want to contend for and make the playoffs next season.
The former Florida Gator has already helped three teams to the post-season, including getting a seventh game loss to the Clippers last season.
Even if Grant has Anderson Varejao on the roster heading into next season, Speights would still garner playing time in a four man rotation up front with Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson.
The second factor that make Speights’ situation different is that he is a big man, and teams around the NBA are always looking for bigs who can play.
While that makes many think Speights would bring back even more in a deal, it has been proven since Varejao was injured that he has a problem playing with Thompson, mainly because they have similar games.
Add to this, the fact that Speights is only 25 years old, five years younger than the Brazilian, and it makes even more of a case that Grant should keep their recent acquisition.
He’s not as good of a rebounder as “The Wild Thing”, but he a better spot up shooter, which is a much-needed skill for NBA teams that win consistently.
Another thing is the Cavs need to start building the next wine and gold squad to make the playoffs, so you can’t get in the habit of continuously dealing players off for more draft picks. The picks are needed to lay a foundation, and Grant has had four first round picks in the last two years, plus what appears to be another top ten pick this summer.
That pick can be used to either pick or deal for another foundation piece.
A quality big man who can shoot and has experience with winning teams is something the Cavaliers will need as they get better and contend.
They already have one on the roster in Marreese Speights. It’s time to check that one off in the “done” column.