The Cavaliers have taken part in “repeated discussions” centered on point guard Jameer Nelson, league sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. Nelson was one of three potential Cavs targets mentioned by Mitch Lawrence of Forbes earlier this week, and Amico suggests that the Nuggets guard appears Cleveland’s primary target from that group.
The Cavs have been in the market for a backup point guard all season, though their search may be intensifying with the trade deadline nearing and LeBron James‘ call for playmakers growing louder. After Cleveland suffered its fifth loss in the team’s last seven games, James said that he hopes the organization is “not satisfied” with the current roster.
Nelson, who turns 35 next month, has been a steady backup in Denver over the last two years, having averaged 8.7 PPG and 4.5 APG with a .446/.374/.706 shooting line in 44 games this season. Of course, the Nuggets remain in the hunt for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, so it’s not clear how willing they’d be to sell off rotation players, particularly someone like Nelson, who is viewed as a mentor for Emmanuel Mudiay.
If the Cavs and Nuggets did get serious about a potential Nelson deal, there are a number of different forms a trade could take. Cleveland has one trade exception worth $4.8MM+, which would be more than enough to absorb Nelson’s $4.5MM+ salary, meaning the Cavs wouldn’t necessarily have to send out any salary in a swap. However, the Nuggets remain well below the salary floor, so the club likely wouldn’t be averse to taking on a contract or two as part of a deal.
Lawrence’s report for Forbes this week also mentioned Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo as players on the Cavaliers’ radar, but Cleveland’s level of interest in those players is unclear. General manager David Griffin has certainly considered many options on both the trade market and free agent market to solidify the team’s point guard position and provide the club with another playmaker. Griffin may ultimately wait until closer to the deadline to make a decision on the best direction for the Cavs.