After hours upon hours spent refreshing Twitter, scouring for updates and keeping an eye out for the proverbial “Woj Bomb,” the NBA trade deadline has finally come to pass.
For a handful of teams, this afternoon and the days leading up to it were hectic and eventful. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, they were anything but. Give or take a few rumors heating up here and there, the deadline came and went without the Cavs making any moves.
To be honest, as underwhelming as some may find this, it was both the least surprising outcome for Cleveland, as well as the best.
The Cavs’ lack of available assets was made apparent time and time again as we neared the deadline. All they really had to part with were lower-tier role players, unappealing draft picks and, maybe, Iman Shumpert. The market for any of these options was unspectacular to say the least. While Shumpert’s name was pulled into a rumor or two with the Houston Rockets, their unwillingness to part with Patrick Beverley reportedly stopped these talks dead in their tracks.
Other than that, though, Cleveland avoided diving into the thick of the deadline craziness. The Cavs’ lack of moves shouldn’t be seen as a negative, though. There’s actually a lot to like about Cleveland standing pat at the deadline.
For one, we have now reached the long-awaited, merciful end to the Carmelo Anthony-to-Cleveland trade rumors. Though there was an oddly sizable amount of people who felt this move had to be made, the fact it never took place is clearly a good thing for the Cavs.
I’ve spent more than enough time explaining why trading for Anthony would’ve been a bad idea for Cleveland. Said deal would’ve been ten times worse if it involved the Cavs parting with Kevin Love. With the deadline officially behind us, we can now exhale and enjoy the end of ludicrous hot takes claiming Anthony’s ball-stopping tendencies, shoddy defense and limited rebounding abilities would be an upgrade over Love.
Cleveland’s inactivity also further highlights the fact the buyout market was and still is its best chance to make upgrades.
With an open roster spot available, the Cavs have long been searching for an available free agent to plug in to the lineup. They worked out former Milwaukee Buck Larry Sanders yesterday, and may also pursue buyout candidates like Andrew Bogut or Deron Williams (who many believe is expected to sign with them when he clears waivers). Though these names are hardly going to blow anyone away, it’s far better than what Cleveland would’ve realistically been able to do via trade.
The most important takeaway from the Cavs passing on any trades is one simple thing many seemed to be forgetting over the past couple weeks – Cleveland is already an elite team.
Remember, the Cavs are still the top team in the Eastern Conference. They’ve established this record without having J.R. Smith for most of the season. The team, as a whole, has very rarely played at full strength this year, and still has a three game lead over the second place Boston Celtics.
As tempting as it may have been to try and pull off some blockbuster move to rival Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors, such a deal not only couldn’t have been done, it also wasn’t necessary. Cleveland is already a title contender as is, and is set to get Smith and Love back right before the postseason. As a result, a big acquisition didn’t have to be made.
Top it off with the fact Boston was unable to acquire big-name targets like Jimmy Butler or Paul George, and you can see the Cavs are still in a great position to return to the Finals after deadline day.
While Cleveland’s inactivity may have underwhelmed those expecting a major deal, said critics should take solace in the fact this simply isn’t a team which needed to make a desperate move. After a free agent pickup or two, combined with the impending return of Smith and Love, the Cavs will be more than ready to defend their title come postseason.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook