Big Trade With the Memphis Grizzlies Will Help the Cleveland Cavaliers

By Nick Claussen
Jerome Miron – USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers may not receive a lot of attention for their Tuesday trade, but it was a great move that should pay dividends this year and in the future.

On Tuesday, the Cavaliers traded little used center Jon Leuer to the Memphis Grizzlies for forward/center Marreese Speights, guard Wayne Ellington, guard Josh Selby and a future first round draft pick.

Basically, the Cavaliers agreed to take on more than $6 million in contracts from the Grizzlies and picked up more young players with promise. All three of these players could be good additions and provide some badly needed depth.

First of all, I love Selby and think he has a bright future. If you watched him in college at Kansas or  in the 2012 NBA Summer League, you know that the second-year guard can play. Selby was one of the best players in the Summer League and looked like he was ready to become a star this year. Instead, though, he only received a small amount of playing time with the Grizzlies and spent a lot of time in the NBA D-League.

He may still need  time to become a consistent NBA player, but hopefully he will receive more opportunities in Cleveland than he did in Memphis. I’m betting he will make the most of any opportunities he receives with the Cavaliers.

Speights, meanwhile, is 6-10 and 245 pounds, and is in his fifth year in the NBA. With Anderson Varejao out for the rest of the season, the Cavaliers need more size and experience in the front court, and Speights should be able to contribute right away.

Ellington, a guard out of North Carolina, is in his fourth year in the league and has already shown that he is a solid player.

As for the draft pick, the Cavaliers can’t use it until 2015, and it is protected so that the Grizzlies will keep it if it’s in the 1-5 range or the 15-30 range in 2015 or in 2016. Also, it can’t be used in 2017 or 2018 if it is for choices 1-5. If the Cavaliers still have not used the draft pick by 2019, it is finally no longer protected.

While Speights should play right away, it’s not clear what role Ellington or Selby will have with their new team. The Cavaliers are strongest at the guard position and it will be interesting to see how many minutes head coach Byron Scott gives Ellington and Selby.

Young guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are both dynamic scorers and are expected to be building blocks for the Cavaliers. They will continue to receive a lot of minutes each night.

Veteran guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson also plays considerable minutes when he is healthy and the recently signed Shaun Livingston is also getting a lot of minutes and is playing well. Free agent signee C.J. Miles has been starting for the Cavaliers at guard recently, and is also getting a considerable amount of playing time.

This trade could mean that Gibson may be moved to a contender in February in order to make more playing time for Selby and Ellington. The Cavaliers could also choose to keep Selby in the D-League for a time to give him the opportunity to keep gaining experience and improving there.

The Cavaliers could also choose to ship out one or more of the new players as part of a future trade. It’s hard to tell exactly how this trade will shake out this year and for future years, but with the Cavaliers struggling and needing to add talent, it’s good to see management making trades and doing what they can to help the team improve.


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