With trade rumors abound, a familiar name is back in the mix with regard to the Cleveland Cavaliers: Philadelphia 76ers swingman Andre Iguodala.
In a recent interview with AOL FanHouse’s Tim Potvak, Iguodala says that he anticipates that he will be calling another city home before this February’s trade deadline. And given last year’s interest in the athletic small forward, the Cleveland Cavaliers find their name in the hat of potential suitors.
Cleveland fans are in the midst of a rebuild, but have seen their New Expression Cavaliers beat the 76ers on more than one occasion this season. It was Phildelphia (currently 3-13) that helped break the team’s losing streak in the confines of Quicken Loans Arena – they allowed Anderson Varejao (8.2 ppg average) to score a season-high 23 points. It is also a rebuilding Philadelphia team that is rife with young, talented players like Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner that could ultimately force them to unload a veteran with a skill set like that of Iguodala.
The questions then remain: Would Iguodala be a good fit, and what would Cleveland have to give up to acquire his services?
To answer the first inquiry in an uncommitting fashion, yes and no. It is no secret that the Cavs could use a small forward that can not only score, but one who could also defend. Current Cavaliers small forwards have an average PER of 10.5, well below the league average. On defense, they are allowing opposing small forwards to amass a PER of 16.8; a differential of 6.3, easily the largest among the five positions.
Adding Iguodala would not only improve offensive production at the small forward position, but would seemingly clamp down on the opposition. Iguodala has racked up at least 130 steals in each of the last six seasons. Per 48 minutes this season, Iguodala is holding opposing small forwards to a PER of 13.7, representing greater than a three-point decline over what current Cavaliers small forwards are allowing.
The downside of the “fit” equation is two-fold. First, is Iguodala’s contract which not only pays him over $12 million for this season, but has his employing team on the hook for$13.5 million in 2011-12, $14.7 million in 2012-13, and a player option of $15.9 million in 2013-14. Not exactly a Danny Ferry-type deal, and one that would pay said player almost twice that of Mo Williams (a player who the team has considered moving due to contractual ties).
And secondly, the Cavaliers are rebuilding regardless of whether they wish to accept this or not. If we assume that the team gets him for an expiring contract and a portion of their current trade exception (for example), Iguodala would seemingly add approximately five wins throughout the course of the season – a number which can be prorated as time elapses. Five wins this season may not be, and should not be, worth a contract of Iguodala’s stature for a player who has never had a PER north of 19.
For referencing purposes, Daniel Gibson’s PER this season is 18.21 and he’s making just over $4 million. If Iguodala’s per-dollar production was a tough pill to swollow last season, it’s even more difficult this year. Of course, the Cavaliers also had another guy playing the small forward slot last season. This year presents a bit of a different equation.
And the answer to the second question may not even matter. While the Cavaliers are armed with expiring contracts, draft picks and a trade exception – three things which rebuilding team’s love to take on – other teams that could be in the hunt for Iguodala’s services (like New York, Houston or Dallas) have considerably more in terms of tradable assets. The Knicks could move Wilson Chandler, Houston has an expiring Shane Battier as well as Courtney Lee, and Dallas could trade an expiring Caron Butler, JJ Barea or even Roddy Beaubois.
It would not only be difficult for the Cavs to match or beat these types of offers, but it also may not be worth it. The trade exception which was acquired for LeBron James is arguably the team’s biggest chip. Is it worth flipping it for a player who commands a decent number possessions but has only led his current team to three wins?
Alas, while the rumor mill will start swirling as household names discuss the potential for their names being listed on the transaction wire, Cavaliers GM Chris Grant will likely exude even more patience than he did this past offseason. And, despite the Wine and Gold’s current struggles on the wing, this may not exactly be a bad thing.