The rumor mill was swirling about in Cleveland in the days leading up to the NBA’s trade deadline on Thursday.
Despite owning the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers were reportedly looking to upgrade their roster in some sort of fashion. Everyone on the team not named Kyrie Irving or LeBron James were seemingly mentioned with the word “trade.”
More so than perhaps anyone was much-maligned power forward Kevin Love, who has been a part of all sorts of rumored transactions since he arrived in Cleveland last season.
Well, the trade deadline came and went, and Love is still a Cavalier.
And that’s a good thing, in case you were wondering.
However, don’t take that to mean that Cleveland didn’t do anything.
In a three-team trade involving the Orlando Magic and the Portland Trail Blazers, the Cavaliers sent oft-injured center Anderson Varejao and a conditional 2018 first-round draft pick to the Blazers in order to receive Orlando forward Channing Frye. Backup guard Jared Cunningham was also part of the deal and was traded to the Magic.
On and off of the court, the Cavaliers walked away big winners. By shipping off Varejao and Cunningham, the team saved “more than $10 million in payroll and taxes this season,” according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
Varejao, a fan favorite, was in the midst of his 12th year with the Cavaliers since being traded there as a rookie in 2004. He will be remembered in Cleveland as a selfless player who gave it his all on the court. He made little impact, though, this season, averaging just 2.6 points per contest. While injuries certainly played a role in his production — they always have — Varejao’s high salary was just too much to ignore any longer.
By acquiring the versatile Frye, who can play both forward and center, the Cavaliers added a much-needed component to the team.
The 6-foot-11 Frye is a forward by trait, but he is really a stretch forward — a big man who can space the floor with his outside shooting ability. Frye owns a career 3-point shooting percentage near 40 percent and was shooting at about that mark this season before getting traded. Not only is the nine-year veteran a superb floor-spacer, but he brings great value in the pick-and-pop game, something the Cavaliers offense needed a boost in.
In terms of his defense, Frye is a solid low-post defender and decent shot-blocker, assisted by what basically surmounts to be a 7-foot wingspan. His defensive efforts will likely be needed in late-game situations, an area in which Love is less than stellar in.
At a time when the Cavaliers had to make a move in order to gain ground on other rival NBA heavyweights — the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs — general manager David Griffin brought in a player who will help the team do just that. With a pair of big floor-spacers in Love and the newly acquired Frye, Cleveland now has the look of a truly complete team.
Frye is slated to make his debut as a Cavalier on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.