After all the phone calls, texts and countless conversations, the biggest deals of the day were the ones the Cavaliers didn’t make. Luol Deng is still here, as are Jarrett Jack and Tyler Zeller.
Spencer Hawes is joining them, the only player the Cavs acquired on a relatively quiet trade deadline day across the league. Hawes, 25, is a 7-foot-1 forward/center who is averaging 13 points and 8.5 rebounds, both career highs. He is in the final year of a contract paying him $6.5 million this season.
The Cavs sent Earl Clark and Henry Sims to the Sixers, along with two second-round picks — their own and the pick from the Memphis Grizzlies. The Cavs still have the second-round pick from the Orlando Magic, which will likely wind up the most favorable of the three.
In Hawes, the Cavs are acquiring a big man who can alter the spacing on offense — a priority of acting General Manager David Griffin was to open the floor and create wider driving lanes for Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
The Cavs waived Hawes’ physical to expedite his arrival. He was expected to meet the Cavs in Toronto on Thursday and be available for tonight’s game against the Raptors.
“We’re a drive-and-kick team,” Griffin said. “It’s going to make it easier for those guys. Guys like Luol Deng can slash a little easier. There’s room for movement.”
Deng’s name surfaced in trade rumors across the league in recent days. Deng made it clear following Wednesday’s win over the Magic, the Cavs’ sixth in a row, he wasn’t happy the organization fired Chris Grant and those who know him well privately believe he has grown unhappy here in recent weeks.
Griffin insisted he wasn’t shopping Deng around the league, but was doing his due diligence by listening to offers. The Cavs were seeking a first-round pick in order to move him, a league source said, but when it was apparent they weren’t going to get a high pick for him, they began talking about other players.
One source, speaking on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of trade talks, said the Cavs and Washington Wizards briefly discussed a trade involving Deng and Trevor Ariza, but the talks never really progressed.
Now Deng will remain with the Cavs for the rest of the season and they will hold his Bird rights if they attempt to re-sign him this summer. Griffin doesn’t believe the relationship between the Cavs and Deng has been damaged despite his unhappiness and Deng’s name being floated in trade talks the past couple of days.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t listen to what people had to say,” Griffin said. “You will never, ever hear a word come out of my mouth that anything in the franchise is ‘untouchable.’ It’s our job to identify opportunities, no matter how big or small they are. And so I did that. I did my job and I listened to what was out there.”
That includes offers for Jack, who has been shopped by the Cavs for the past few weeks in an attempt to get out from under the $12 million-plus guaranteed remaining on his contract.
The Cavs discussed deals with the Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves, but each deal forced them to take on money beyond this season, which was a problem in every deal. The whole reason they were trying to unload Jack’s contract was to clear the books for this summer.
Zeller’s name was a surprise. The Beacon Journal learned early Thursday morning the Cavs had floated Zeller’s name around the league in recent days, and once the Hawes deal was finalized, it appeared Zeller was headed out of Cleveland when he was playing his finest basketball.
The Cavs and Los Angeles Clippers engaged in talks about Zeller and little-used Clippers rookie Reggie Bullock, but CBS Sports reported the talks hit a snag and ended Thursday afternoon.
Now they have five significant big men in Hawes, Zeller, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett. Varejao (back) along with Waiters (knee) and C.J. Miles (ankle) did not make the trip to Toronto, but the Cavs insist Varejao’s injury isn’t considered serious.
When Varejao returns, coach Mike Brown will have a hard time finding minutes for all five. Zeller or Bennett might have their minutes affected the most, but Griffin said it was important to get another big man who could reduce Varejao’s minutes limit.
Varejao has remained relatively healthy this season after playing in just 81 games the past three years. Brown played Varejao 43 minutes in the win over the Memphis Grizzlies nearly two weeks ago, but Varejao hasn’t been available to play since.
“It would be great not to have to rely on him for 43 minutes a night when we’re going to try to win the game,” Griffin said. “Anderson gives you everything he has, every second he’s on the floor. You’re not going to dial that back. That’s what we love about him.”
The Cavs now have an open roster spot, but aren’t expected to fill it right away. Griffin said rookie Sergey Karasev is better than anyone they could find in free agency or the Development League, so Karasev might get the opportunity to play tonight since Waiters and Miles are unavailable.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.