On Tuesday night, Bob Finnan of The News-Herald reported an unconfirmed rumor in which the Cleveland Cavaliers were approached by Minnesota’s David Kahn.
The report, which has since been confirmed to WFNY by a source close to the team, states that Kahn was looking to unload a player with $42 million remaining due to him via a contract signed in 2007. The Cavaliers, having the ability to take on a player of this financial magnitude thanks to their Traded Player Exception, considered the idea of adding the 6-foot-10-inch big man, but subsequently declined the proposal.
At the time, the 25-year old Jefferson was viewed as a power forward who has had a bit of an injury history. Jefferson underwent ankle surgery in 2006, an appendectomy in 2006, and endured a torn ACL and reconstructive knee surgery in 2009, playing more than 75 games just twice in his now seven-year career. While the back-to-the-basket presence would have been a welcomed addition to a team lacking a dominant post presence, Jefferson was viewed by the team as a player who could be a complimentary piece in a “win now” environment, not one who would be the Cavaliers’ new savior.
“He’s not a player who is going to single handedly turn things around,” said the source. “If completely healthy, [Jefferson] could produce solid stats on a bad team, but at most he would give you five or six wins.”
On the season, Jefferson is averaging 16.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game. For a team that is on pace to win 23-24 games, adding five or six wins could keep the Cavaliers in the dreaded position of 10th or 11th best team in the Eastern Conference, a state of limbo which the Cavaliers are trying to avoid.
Also, if the Cavaliers are looking to compete again within the next two-to-three seasons, a 28-year-old Jefferson with knee issues is a lot older in basketball years than one who is 25-years old. Alas, the team was forced to weigh the long-term risks at hand coupled with the uncertainty of the next eight months.
Going forward, WFNY is told that Cavaliers GM Chris Grant will continue to keep the team’s financial flexibility. Presently, the Traded Player Exception is one of this team’s biggest assets and using it early in its existence prior to examining where this team was heading was not something that the front office felt was in its best interest.
As stated multiple times on WFNY, it is speculated that there is a high probability the Cavaliers hold on to the Exception beyond the mid-February trade deadline. In the meantime, there will be a lot of phone calls, rumored trade proposals and potential formal discussions that could substantially change the foundation of Cavaliers as the team does have its collective sight set on a select few potential additions. Come draft time, Grant and his team will have a clearer view of how this team will look and what pieces will need to be added, making the Exception that much more valuable.
While the Traded Player Exception is currently burning a hole in the pockets of the collective Cavalier fan base, the team feels confident that a better option will arise down the road. At that time, the strategy will begin to unfold and Cleveland will take the necessary steps to get the ship back on track.
Perception may be that Grant is merely sitting on his hands in Independence, Ohio, watching the Wine and Gold ship sink while other teams are making themselves better, but this could not be farther from the truth.
(AP Photo/Morry Gash)