While the Cavaliers would surely prefer to have Larry Nance Jr. and Kevin Porter Jr. healthy and in their rotation, knee injuries to both players have given the team the opportunity to showcase a pair of veteran players for potential trades, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
As Vardon observes, John Henson and Brandon Knight each played a season-high 23 minutes during Sunday’s loss to Minnesota after seeing limited action for most of the first half of 2019/20. Henson, who made his first start of the season due to Tristan Thompson‘s illness, scored seven points and grabbed 11 rebounds against the Wolves, as the Cavs look to showcase him in advance of the trade deadline.
With Henson’s $9.7MM contract set to expire at season’s end, Cleveland would like to move him, according to Vardon, a reality the big man seems to have accepted.
“Expiring deals, rebuilding team, young guys — it’s part of the game,” Henson said. “You do the best you can within what you can control, and that’s me going out there and trying to play well within a team concept — and that’s what I’m going to do.”
As for Knight, 14 of his 23 minutes on Sunday came after Porter went down in the third quarter, Vardon notes. While the veteran guard made just 2-of-8 shots vs. Minnesota, he may get a chance to continue playing a regular role, since Porter is expected to miss at least the next two weeks.
“I like Brandon Knight,” one scout told Vardon before Sunday’s game. “But he never gets to play.”
Knight’s $15.6MM cap hit will probably make him trickier to move than Henson, especially since he has struggled in his limited minutes this season. Still, it’s an expiring deal and could appeal to a team looking to create future flexibility.
The Cavs, who have already traded Jordan Clarkson this season, appear open to moving Kevin Love and virtually any of their veterans in contract years, including Matthew Dellavedova and possibly Thompson. Now that Henson and Knight are in the rotation, the Cavs will hope the little-used vets show potential trade partners they’re worth a look.