The Cleveland Cavaliers are in trouble. The reigning and three-time defending Eastern Conference champs are perilously close to falling out of the top four in the East and the prospects of improving the roster at the trade deadline are growing ever slimmer as the hours tick down to 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 8.
As the Cavs continue to survey their roster and assets while looking around the league for some help on the trade market, they’re finding that there isn’t one trade that can fix their problems. Not only is it difficult for them to make substantial improvements with one trade, but it’s also going to be exceedingly hard for them to blow things up and make multiple big moves to really shake up the roster.
Two of the biggest problem spots for the Cavs in making trades are with the contracts carried by Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith. Thompson makes $16.4 million this year, but is owed right on $36 million guaranteed through 2019-20, which is a lot of money for what he does. Smith makes less money at $13.7 million this year, $14.7 million next year with only $3.8 million guaranteed in 2019-20, but considering he’s fallen off steeply this season his contract might be even less valuable than Thompson.
In any case, those two contracts signed in the wild summer of 2016 following their championship run when the cap spiked now haunt the Cavs as they look to restructure their roster. Their pursuit of DeAndre Jordan has stalled out chiefly because the Clippers won’t even consider taking on either Tristan or J.R.’s contracts (certainly not both) unless the Brooklyn 2018 first round pick is involved, which to this point has remained off the table in talks.