Timofey Mozgov

Cavaliers Add Center in Latest Trade

Timofey MozgovIn just two days, Cleveland has completed a pair of moves to in an effort to stabilize the roster around its trio of stars.

The two moves were specifically designed to complete the starting five.

A day after trading Dion Waiters — the fourth overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft — for two guards, the team has finally landed a replacement for Anderson Varejao at center.

The Cavaliers sent two future first round picks to Denver in exchange for Timofey Mozgov, a 7-foot-1 center from Russia.

In 35 starts with the Nuggets this season, Mozgov is averaging 8.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

To land the center it had been coveting since the summer, Cleveland had to surrender two future first round selections.

Mozgov became expendable in Denver as rookie Jusuf Nurkic has shown promise in his limited chances.

The Cavaliers are hoping Mozgov can be the post presence and shot blocking threat LeBron James had lacked during his four years in Miami.

Cleveland was pursuing the 28-year-old center, wanting to reunite him with coach David Blatt, as the two worked together on the Russian national team.

By landing Mozgov, Cleveland now boasts a starting rotation with him at center, Kevin Love at power forward, James at small forward, Iman Shumpert, one of the guards acquired in a deal Monday night, at shooting guard and Kyrie Irving at the point.

Perhaps more than any other team in the league, the Cavaliers need to starting piling up victories now.

The team has lost five of its past six outings while James and Irving are dealing with injury issues.

Even in a weakened Eastern Conference, Cleveland has posted a 19-16 record, fifth best in the conference while it still tries to find a true identity.

Center Timofey Mozgov has posted nine double-doubles in 35 appearances for Denver this season.
Center Timofey Mozgov has posted nine double-doubles in 35 appearances for Denver this season.

The addition of Shumpert gives the team a ferocious perimeter defender to pair with James, something the team lacked all year and Mozgov will replace the undersized Tristan Thompson, forced to move to the center position after Varejao tore his Achilles heel, in the starting lineup.

During his five-year tenure in the NBA, Mozgov has shown flashes of dominance, such as his 23 point, 29 rebound, three block effort during a victory in Golden State last season.

He provides some rim protection for a team that is blocking the fifth fewest shots and is allowing opponents to shoot 46.9 percent from the field, the fourth highest in the league.

Cleveland was desperate to improve its team quickly in order to convince two All-Star forwards to remain with the franchise.

When James returned to the Cavaliers, he signed a two-year $42.2 million contract, a deal designed to enable maximum earning power once the revenues from the NBA’s latest television contact begin impacting team’s payrolls in a positive way.

Included in the two-year deal he signed to play for the team closest to his childhood home was an opt out clause after this season, meaning he could choose to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season.

Along with the possibility of losing James, the team has yet to convince Love to sign a long term deal with the team.

Minnesota was motivated to trade him last summer as he had the ability to decline the final season of a four-year deal he signed with the team to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

Instead of risking letting him play for a new team without anything in return, the Timberwovles sent him to Cleveland in exchange for Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, the first overall selections in the last two NBA drafts.

All-Star forwards Kevin Love (left) and LeBron James (right) both have the ability to opt out of their contracts and become unrestricted free agents this summer.
All-Star forwards Kevin Love (left) and LeBron James (right) both have the ability to opt out of their contracts and become unrestricted free agents this summer.

Rumors have circulated about Love possibly leaving the team after this season.

The Cavaliers tried to alleviate those concerns by instantaneously infusing even more talent to its roster.

To fill its biggest need, size, the team was forced to pay a steep price.

Cleveland surrendered one of the most coveted assets it had, a future first round pick from Memphis that only carried a top-5 protection starting in 2017.

The first round pick obtained from Oklahoma City in the deal for Waiters was also sent to Denver, the pick would remain with the Thunder if it ended up as a top-18 pick this season and top-15 in 2016.

If the presence of Mozgov proves to be enough to convince Love and James to remain in Cleveland for long term, then the deal would have to be considered a massive success.

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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