The Cleveland Cavaliers have a good thing going. At 26-15, the team would have home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs, if the season ended today. Led by Donovan Mitchell, the team is likely headed for its first non-LeBron James playoff appearance this century, barring any catastrophes.
And while Lake Erie is hungry for playoff basketball, everyone loves a nice homecoming. And according to one Eastern Conference executive, Cleveland is one of the “most likely” destinations for a LeBron homecoming, should he be traded.
But the move likely hinges on one “key” player: Kevin Love.
“That is the most likely thing, if he wants it all to end on a good note,” the executive told Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports. “Go back to Cleveland one last time. It is a good team, you can win, and it is where it all started. No one’s going to hate him for going to Cleveland again. The trick is getting the numbers to match up, if you could do something with Kevin Love’s contract, that could be the key.”
James could essentially slide into the open wing spot on the Cavs’ roster. And surrounded with youth, he’d be required to do significantly less in Cleveland than he’s currently being asked of with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Deal for Mavs Scorer ‘Essentially Up to Cavaliers’
LeBron isn’t the only player with links to Cleveland of late. As the team continues eyeing wing upgrades, one name that’s come up in discussions is Tim Hardaway, Jr.
Last week, cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor suggested fans keep Hardaway, Jr. in mind as the league gets closer to the NBA trade deadline.
“The name that I would watch is Tim Hardaway, Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks,” Fedor noted on the Wine and Gold podcast. “Elite, elite outside shooter that can play the two and the three. Defends well enough and Dallas is a team that, even though they’re in the playoff mix right now and top six in the Western Conference, Hardaway, Jr.’s salary structure is one that is problematic for Dallas moving forward and I think they would be willing to move off of his salary and get somebody who brings…a different element to Dallas.”
Those rumors got even louder on Monday, with another report suggesting the ball is actually in Cleveland’s court on any Hardaway, Jr. deal.
“League sources have reaffirmed to me that Hardaway is indeed available and that it’s essentially up to the Cavaliers if they are prepared to take on the two years and $34.1 million left on Hardaway’s contract beyond this season,” NBA insider Marc Stein wrote in his newsletter The Stein Line on January 9.
Hardaway would provide some real scoring oomph to the Cavaliers, especially in the three-point department. Cleveland currently ranks 21st in three-point shots attempted. Hardaway, Jr. is a three-point specialist, good on a career 42% of threes.
Cavs Mulling Kelly Oubre Deal?
“Cleveland, Phoenix and Toronto had been circulating as teams that had trade interest in the Hornets’ Kelly Oubre Jr. until Oubre was forced to undergo left hand surgery this week expected to sideline him for four-to-six weeks.”
The Cavs are currently short on significant assets to send any team in a trade. But given Oubre’s recent injury, it’s worth wondering whether Charlotte’s asking price has gone down for the veteran.