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NBA AM: Are The Cavs Open To Trades?

Cavs GM David Griffin says he won’t trade Kevin Love, but is he looking for other deals?… Is it time to explore a Chris Paul trade?

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Not Moving Love, But Open to Options

Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin has heard the rumors and the speculation and while he’s not closed to the idea of making changes the roster, one part that he’s not open to is moving forward Kevin Love.

During an interview with ESPN 850 AM in Cleveland, Griffin was clear that the Cavs have not explored deals involving Love and are not trying to consummate one.

“You’d have to go a long way to convince me that we’re a better team winning in the Finals without a player like Kevin on our team,” Griffin said. “We’ve never once put together an offer involving Kevin, nor have we taken a call on an offer for Kevin.

“We think very highly of Kevin, and we believe Kevin thinks very highly of this situation. But I can also tell you that we have been very clear from the beginning that there’s no such thing as untouchables.”

Griffin indicated that he was open to improving his team’s depth and bench situation, hinting that moving off a core piece like Love was really not in the plan, but that he was watching the situation and weighing things regularly.

“You’re either all the way in or all the way out in this process,” Griffin said. “We believe our guys are all the way in. If it remains that way, then we are going to try and augment the group at the bottom and try to get some additional depth, and that’s what we’ll do. We’re not going to be afraid to do what needs to be done if something more significant comes along.”

The Cavaliers have two fairly significant Traded Player Exceptions: a $10.522 million TPE from the Brendan Haywood trade with Portland and a $2.854 million TPE from the Mike Miller Trade with Portland, both of which expire on July 30.

Those TPEs can be used to absorb a salary from another team, which would add massively to the Cavaliers’ $109.27 million payroll, and balloon exponentially their league-high $61.988 million luxury tax bill.

The Cavaliers have been linked to Phoenix forward Markieff Morris and New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson; however, both seem unlikely additions given their enormous salaries.

The 2015-16 NBA trade deadline is February 18 at 3 p.m. EST.

Moving Chris Paul?

As we covered in this space yesterday, the lack of trade activity and the looming NBA Trade Deadline has sparked a lot of speculation, especially as some teams continue to falter or face unexpected setbacks due to poor play or injury.

The L.A. Clippers are reportedly going to lose forward Blake Griffin for what’s being characterized as “weeks” to what looks to be a broken hand in what’s being called a “team-related incident” – if that sounds weird and awkward, it is.

The Clippers have been without Griffin since roughly Christmas to a torn quadriceps muscle and were on the verge of getting him back before the latest hand setback.

Griffin’s injury makes a trade involving anyone of substance highly unlikely, but that hasn’t stopped some from speculating that with the state of the West and the age of the Clippers roster, would it be time to explore what Chris Paul’s trade value is?

Danny Leroux of the Sporting News went to great length to explain the logic of exploring a Paul trade. He is 31 years old, he is in the prime of his career and as healthy as he has been in years.

Kevin Pelton of ESPN took the idea a step further, suggesting not only should the Clippers consider Paul’s value, but offered up a Paul for Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving swap.

On the surface, this seems a little laughable. Why would the Clippers give up on Paul? But the more you consider the situation, there is at least a glimmer of logic to it.

As things stand today, the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are the teams to beat in the West. Despite the Clippers’ recent success, are they really at the caliber of the Spurs or Warriors? Could they really win a seven-game series against either, even with Griffin at a 100 percent? If the answer is no, then your pounding your proverbial head against the playoff wall.

Paul is not getting any younger, and a trade that returned Irving (and others to work under the cap) would move the clock back for the Clippers.

It is often said in NBA circles that having a realistic understanding of where you really are in the grand scheme is important to roster construction. Understanding your window to win is also important.

The Cavaliers are spending north of $109 million because LeBron James is not getting any younger and the time to win a championship is right now – swapping out Irving for Paul might be the move that gets the Cavaliers over the hump right as the window is all the way open for the Cavaliers.

This is an amusing scenario to ponder, because it would solve some issues for both teams in the short term. However, like most speculative trades, there is not a lot of substance to it in reality.

Because of the names involved and the outlets choosing to comment on it, it’s going to get more and more play despite the fact that’s it’s not a deal under consideration.

It does raise the questions of how much longer should the Clippers hang on to this particular roster and conversely if the Cavaliers can’t get a championship this year should they too explore significant roster change to keep the window open during LeBron’s prime?

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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