Wine and Gold Wheeling and Dealing

January 22, 2013
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Marreese Speights

There were rumblings that the Cavaliers might be active at this year’s Trade Deadline. But why wait until February when a deal like Tuesday’s becomes available one month earlier?

Fresh off their final West Coast trip of the season, the Wine and Gold did some wheeling and dealing – sending forward Jon Leuer to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for forward/center Marreese Speights, guards Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby, and a future first round Draft pick.

The pick – as usual – has some stipulations to it. The Cavs will receive the Grizzlies’ first rounder in the first available year after Memphis satisfies its pick obligation to Minnesota. Starting in 2015, the pick is available to Cleveland. It’s protected 1-5 and 15-30 in 2015 and 2016 and protected 1-5 in 2017 and 2018. If the pick hasn’t been used by 2018, it becomes unprotected in 2019.

The trade works out well on several levels for the Cavaliers, not the least of which is to add depth to a frontcourt that recently lost Anderson Varejao for the season after a blood clot was discovered in his left lung. The 6-10, 245-pound Speights – drafted 16th overall by Philly in 2008 Draft – should be able to step right in and contribute.

Speights, 25, was traded just over a year ago to Memphis. The former Gator has a career average of 7.4 ppg but averaged 8.8 last season in 54 starts.

Guard Wayne Ellington was also a first rounder – the 28th overall selection in 2009. A member of North Carolina’s national championship team, the 6-4, 200-pounder comes to Cleveland averaging 6.3 ppg through four years as a pro.

Josh Selby is just in his second year out of Kansas. The 21-year-old point guard has bounced back and forth from the D-League and has averaged 2.2 ppg through this first two years in Memphis.

Jon Leuer, the 40th overall pick two years ago, played sparingly with the Wine and Gold after signing a free agent deal this past June – averaging 2.4 points in nine games with Cleveland.

Jeremy Pargo, acquired in a trade with Memphis the same week that Leuer signed this summer, was waived to make room for the new Cavaliers. Kevin Jones, who had just been assigned to Canton, made the quick turnaround and is back with the big show.

The trade is part of the new reality in today’s NBA – with teams like Memphis trying to maintain their playoff-ready roster while battling the prohibitive luxury tax costs of the new CBA.

That being said, the Cavaliers did well to add another draft pick (to their growing list) while still maintaining flexibility down the road, depending on what they decide to do with Speights when his contract is up.

Cleveland also added depth and experience without getting that much older. Both Speights and Ellington are 25 and Selby is 21.

Chris Grant and the Cavaliers might not be done wheeling and dealing yet this season. But they made a big splash on Tuesday – taking on some solid players and acquiring another first round pick. They added size and experience to the frontcourt. Size, experience and shooting to their backcourt. And, of course, whatever the pending draft pick turns out to be in the not-too-distant future.

It was a cold, grey day in Cleveland. But the future continues to get brighter by the day.