With a month remaining until March 15th, it's not clear yet how the Cavaliers plan to approach the NBA's trade deadline. The Cavs, currently 2.5 games out of the eighth spot in the East, have enough young talent and potential trade chips that it makes sense for the team to become deadline sellers, stocking up the future.
However, comments made by coach Byron Scott today echoed multiple reports from the past few weeks. The Cavs weren't shopping Anderson Varejao prior to his wrist injury, and may be reluctant to sell off pieces if they're in position to make the playoffs.
"Once a team gets a taste of the playoffs like (the Pacers) did last year, even though they lost in the first round, you come back hungrier the next year," Scott said. "That’s why I don’t understand why people say we should lose games."
Even if the Cavs are reluctant to compromise their postseason chances by making moves, it may be a moot point by March 15th. If Cleveland continues to slip further out of the playoff picture, I expect them to listen closely to offers they receive on players like Ramon Sessions and Antawn Jamison. We've covered Sessions as a trade candidate already, so let's take a closer look at Jamison.
At age 35, Jamison is approaching 1000 career games and 35,000 career minutes, but his production doesn't seem to be slipping. His 19.0 points per 36 minutes and 17.7 PER this season are just slightly off his career averages of 19.4 and 18.5, and he's still rebounding at a respectable rate. The 6'8" forward wouldn't be a top scoring option for a title contender like he is for the Cavs, but he could be a useful frontcourt piece on a team with championship aspirations.
While those are Jamison's pros, there's one big con standing in the way of a potential deal — a salary that exceeds $15MM. No NBA team has the cap space to take on such a figure, meaning any trade partner would likely have to send at least $10MM in salary back to the Cavs, if not more. Cleveland wouldn't want to move Jamison unless it improved the club in the long-term, but there aren't many teams out there that could put together a package of expiring contracts and long-term assests worth giving up for Jamison.
One potential match is the Rockets, who have a number of former lottery picks on expiring deals. Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn, Jordan Hill, and Terrence Williams aren't getting much playing time in Houston, so perhaps they could figure into an offer for Jamison. The Cavs, meanwhile, would maintain their cap flexibility while also getting a chance to look at some young players over the season's final few weeks.
Ultimately, I don't expect Jamison to be traded. The $15MM+ coming off Cleveland's books is too valuable for the Cavs to move him unless they receive a great offer, and there just won't be great offers out there for a 35-year-old scorer off the bench.