The Cavaliers Get Channing Frye, But It May Not Matter When Their Real Season Starts

Channing Frye
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The Cleveland Cavaliers probably aren’t parting with Kevin Love at the trade deadline. Whether or not the wine and gold surprise by dealing the former All-Star, though, they’ve already added an additional dose of spacing to the frontcourt.

According to multiple sources, Cleveland has acquired veteran big man Channing Frye from the Orlando Magic in a three-team deal that will send Anderson Varejao to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Cavaliers are including seldom-used guard Jared Cunningham and draft compensation in the swap, too.

Frankly, Frye’s acquisition is unlikely to move the needle for LeBron James and company when stakes rise in the postseason.

The 6’11 sharpshooter indeed plugs a hole in the Cavaliers’ roster. Richard Jefferson and James Jones offer similar shooting threats, but are wildly overmatched against bigger front lines when playing nominal power forward. Frye has the size of a traditional big man, though, and even offers a semblance of rim protection that Tyronn Lue’s team lacks with Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson – whose role is increasingly unclear, by the way – on the bench.

But it’s no accident the 10th-year man could be had for paltry draft compensation. Frye is 32 years old, and was recently phased out of Orlando’s rotation in favor of more dynamic, versatile players. If he’s on the court in a potential NBA Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors, for instance, that will prove a losing proposition for Cleveland.

Anderson Varejao
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On the other hand, it’s not like the Cavaliers surrendered anything of great value to fill a role of semi-need. Varejao barely played with David Blatt at the helm, and his brief time on the floor since Lue took the reins hardly suggested he deserved more frequent opportunities to make an impact.

There’s a reason the Trail Blazers will reportedly wave “Wild Thing” once he passes a physical in the Pacific Northwest.

Bottom line: The Cavaliers are firmly in win-now mode. Giving up conditional draft considerations and a fuzzy-haired fan favorite hurts, but not more than the acquisition of Frye helps.

Pump the brakes on thinking it will matter come the playoffs, though. This deal is more likely to be forgotten than remembered when Cleveland’s real season finally tips off this spring.