The Cleveland Cavaliers, riding a six-game win streak, made a trade early Thursday to strengthen their playoff push. Cleveland is sending forward Earl Clark and center Henry Sims along with two second round draft picks to the Philadelphia 76ers for center Spencer Hawes.
Hawes averaged 13.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in 53 games played for the 76ers this season. The 76ers, who are having a disappointing season and are 10 games out of the playoff race, are able to trade away Hawes’ expiring contract and gain two more draft picks to build for the future.
Hawes will join a Cleveland team three games out of the last playoff spot in the East. The Cavaliers hope they will be able to finally get consistent play from a center in place of the injured Anderson Varejao.
Varejao, since the start of the 2011 season, has only played in 98 games for the Cavaliers. Cleveland’s injuries at the center position has led to defenses playing tight on guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. The addition of Hawes to the Cavaliers’ rotation will allow them to spread the floor and fill Varejao’s spot in middle.
Cleveland’s front office does have to deal with Hawes’ expiring contract lingering over their heads. Hawes is in the final year of his contract that is set to pay him $6.6 million this season. In order for this trade to be worth the draft picks given up, Cleveland puts themselves in a position where they need to make the playoffs and be able to resign Hawes in the offseason.
Over the past years though, Cleveland has not proven they are able to bring back key players to their organization. Now they are faced this summer with trying to convince Hawes and recently acquired forward Luol Deng to sign another deal.
I personally feel Cleveland had to make this trade even though there is uncertainty of how long they can keep Hawes and Deng. Cleveland needs to prove to players in the organization, such as Irving and Waiters, that they are trying to win now.
The front office by making trades to upgrade the team is showing people in and outside the organization that they are committed to winning now. The team’s locker room unrest and losing streaks are slowly going away and the Cavaliers are starting to build a team that can end their three-season playoff drought.
If the Cavaliers can make the playoffs this year and give Irving a chance to perform under a bigger stage more free agents will be attracted to come play in Cleveland. I believe all of Cleveland’s trades this season have revolved around one thing, keeping their All-Star Irving in a Cavs uniform.
The Cavaliers are proving to Irving through these acquisitions they are trying to build the team around him. The question is whether these additions are just till the end of the season or for years to come? That we will have to wait and see.