Portfolio Review: The Cleveland Cavaliers were dealt a blow to their season with news that center Anderson Varejao is out indefinitely with a broken wrist. While the injury probably drops the Cavaliers out of contention for the Eastern Conference’s 8th playoff seed, it likely is in their best long-term interest for that very reason.
The Cavaliers are a rebuilding project. And a much better one than originally thought due to rookie Kyrie Irving outplaying all expectations. But building around a point guard like Irving can be a double-edged sword.
Point guards like Irving (see Paul, Chris) are good enough to get a team into playoff contention fairly quickly because they mask so many deficiencies. However, those deficiencies still exist and pushing forward too fast (see the New Orleans Hornets with Chris Paul) without addressing them can have serious repercussions as the team begins to reach its potential. In a way, this was part of the problem the Cavaliers had when building around LeBron James.
Instead, this team should be stockpiling as many assets as possible while developing young players to try and acquire the type of elite talent that is generally only found with top-ten draft picks.
Prime Assets: Previously the Cavaliers were not attempting to trade Varejao, though his injury might make them more willing. Varejao is the type of player that is desirable for a number of contenders and those sitting in the bottom half of playoff brackets looking to take a step up.
Ideally Varejao would return a younger, legitimate rotation player to grow with Irving and Tristan Thompson–a player who mirrors some of the same strengths and weaknesses of Varejao–or a first round pick in the 15-20 range.
Barring a Varejao trade, point guard Ramon Sessions has been a steady backup point guard for most of his career and remains the only other player on the Cavaliers likely to return a viable rotation player. For a team like the Cavaliers that needs help everywhere, they cannot afford the luxury of redundant skill sets among their best players.
Worthless stock: Tempting as it is to throw Antawn Jamison‘s name into this slot, there is always a team out there somewhere willing to take a shot at a scorer off the bench on an expiring contract. These contracts are ultimately movable, however, generally only bring back other bad or expiring contracts. Still, there is value for moving a contributing veteran to free up developmental minutes for players that might have a future with the team.
The rest: The rest of the teams is young enough to have some redeeming value (i.e. potential), but too young and too unproven to bring back anything in return. This should be an evaluation season for the young guys, and to do so they need as many minutes as possible.