The Cleveland Cavaliers picked up another loss as they wait for LeBron James to return from injury, but made another trade, probably their final of the season, adding Timofey Mozgov of the Denver Nuggets in return for two first round draft picks as their solution to the big man problem they’re having, and hopefully the final piece in the championship team they’re trying to keep intact.
The Cavaliers sent the Nuggets the first round pick from their Waiters-to-the-Thunder trade and another first round pick, but also got a second round pick in return. Mozgov has been averaging 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game this season, starting in 35 games for the Nuggets. With Anderson Varejao out for the season, the Cavaliers couldn’t have continued to rely on just Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love as their big men.
Mozgov has a team option worth $4.95 million next season, which is why the Cavaliers decided to go for him and not someone else (Kostas Koufos of the Grizzlies), working on this trade for quite some time and made a series of moves to try and put this season back on track, despite falling to a 19-17 record this season following their 105-93 loss to the Houston Rockets. All that despite of Kyrie Irving scoring 38 points.
With the loss, the Cavs are fifth in the Eastern conference, 8.5 games behind the surging Atlanta Hawks. They’ve lost seven of their last nine games, and haven’t won at home since December 23 facing the Timberwolves, already losing nine times at home this season. LeBron James has missed their last six games (1-5) but might join the team and trying to form something as quickly as possible, although a Western conference road trip with games against the Warriors, Kings, Suns, Lakers and Clippers isn’t the best way and place to do it.
So basically, the Cavaliers got rid of Dion Waiters, a player who never fit in and didn’t get along with teammates, especially Kyrie Irving, and in return got J.R. Smith who makes up and more for the points lost from sending Waiters away, Iman Shumpert who should provide decent if not better wing defense which the Cavaliers desperately need and also Timofey Mozgov, the Nuggets center who should be very happy to play under David Blatt because of the Russia connection, and provides the big man solution Cleveland were looking for.
This was the last card they had to play. The Cavaliers gave up the first round pick they got in the Waiters trade and another one as well for Mozgov. They got a second round pick in return but in short, in order to make sure the dream of winning a championship this season doesn’t fall apart, they did whatever they could in order to keep this team competitive in an Eastern conference that seems to be running away from them.