The Cleveland Cavaliers are still the best team in the Eastern Conference without J.R. Smith. The mercurial shooting guard is out until March or longer due to a broken thumb. The Cavs do not necessarily need to trade for his replacement but they should.
Iman Shumpert and Mike Dunleavy can take up his minutes but they are not known for their durability. DeAndre Liggins and Jordan McRae still unproven so they basically need a backup plan just in case injuries pile up. Here are the five players the Cavaliers should target to fill in for J.R. Smith.
Monta Ellis, Indiana Pacers
Quite possibly the best fit with the Cavaliers is Monta Ellis of the Indiana Pacers. He can play the shooting guard, albeit not a great three-point shooter. He can also play point guard and he could lead the bench’s charge when the Big 3 are resting.
The only problem for the Cavs is Ellis’ contract that runs until the 2018-19 season with an annual salary of more than $10 million. The Pacers are clearly not a fit to Ellis anymore but a third team is required if the Cavs want to make it happen.
Nick Young, Los Angeles Lakers
Why not, right? The Cavs lost a mercurial guard and why not replace him with another one? Luke Walton has revived Nick Young’s career this season but he is still a candidate to be traded at the deadline.
The Cavs can offer Jordan McRae and a draft pick for Young. However, there is a big chance that “Swaggy P” disrupts the chemistry in Cleveland. The Golden State Warriors would love to see that happen.
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets
Although Will Baron is not the trading block, he is the likely candidate to be traded. The Nuggets have two young players in Gary Harris and Jamal Murray sharing the playing time with Barton. He’ll perfectly fit in Cleveland but the Nuggets would want a big return.
Jimmer Fredette, Shanghai Sharks
Hey, the Jimmer Fever has reached China. The former BYU guard is a beast in the East as he averages 39.0 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals. He cannot be signed until the end of the CBA season on February 24.
Mario Chalmers, Free Agent
Just like Monta Ellis, Mario Chalmers is a perfect fit in Cleveland. He is ready to be cleared from his torn Achilles tendon and he is exactly what the Cavaliers need. He can play point guard while Kyrie shifts to the two position.
Chalmers can also space the floor and shoot threes. Finally, the Cavaliers do not have to give up any player or draft pick for him. Also, he used to play with LeBron James back when they were members of the Miami Heat.
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