Kevin Love is the Cavaliers’ headliner on the rumor mill. But with $90 million on his contract after this season, he’s not likely going anywhere. The Cavaliers player most teams are interested in: guard Brandon Knight.
For all the chatter about Love, it’s Knight that teams want to see. He could, eventually, be the most sought-after piece on this roster. He is slated to make $15 million this year, but it is the last year of his contract. Cleveland would be willing to take on salary in a deal for Knight, if a first-round pick was attached.
“If you can take the hit on his (salary) number and match it, you can get rid of a bad contract and get a guy who can still play,” one league executive told Heavy.com. “He’s got the most interest. He is 28 years old. He’s been through a lot obviously with the injuries, but he is a guy who can probably help you this year and maybe you keep him on a good value deal if he produces.”
It’s that production angle that’s been difficult to establish. In the early going, Knight could not break through the crowded guard rotation in Cleveland, where the team’s last two draft picks—Darius Garland and Collin Sexton—are starting as part of a trial-by-fire plan under which the Cavs are operating.
Cleveland’s backup minutes mostly have gone to Matthew Dellavedova, another player on an expiring contract the team would be willing to move. There hasn’t been much of a demand for Dellavedova, though, and the feeling around the league is that he could eventually hit the buyout market.
Knight hit the floor in the Cavs’ last two games, though, while Dellavedova sat. He played only six minutes in his season debut on November 1 and players 19 minutes in Cleveland’s last game, a loss to Dallas in which coach John Beilein was frustrated with the effort from his starters. He scored 10 points with six assists in that game, going 3-for-7 from the 3-point line.
Knight Hopeful of Career Resurgence
Last month, Knight told Heavy.com he was hopeful for a chance to resurrect his career this season. “I have felt good, I had a good summer, really the best summer I have had in a while,” he said. “The last few years, it’s been frustrating but I think I am healthy now if I have the chance to show it.”
Whether that chance comes in Cleveland, committed as the Cavs are to Sexton and Garland, is an open question. But the expectations is that Knight will not finish the season in Cleveland.
Health does remain a concern, though in the final year of his deal, it’s not a major one for a team taking on Knight. He had surgery to repair his ACL at the start of the 2017-18 season in Phoenix, missed the whole year, then had knee surgery again early last season and was limited to 39 games—including 27 games after he was traded to the Cavs from Houston in February.
Knight would seem well-suited to a reserve role on a good team. He’s not a great shooter but he said he’s worked on his 3-point shot and, at 35.4 percent for his career, he’s at least average and can build from there. He is a solid playmaker, too, and has experience as both a starter and reserve.
That might not be enough for him to get shipped to a new home. But the Cavs will need to showcase him on the floor to find out.