Trade grades: Cavaliers acquire Spencer Hawes from 76ers for Earl Clark, picks
The Cavaliers have acquired center Spencer Hawes from the 76ers. Cleveland will send two 2014 second-round picks — their own pick and one originally belonging to Memphis — to Philadelphia, along with forward Earl Clark and center Henry Sims. The deal was first reported by Yahoo! Sports, with its terms clarified by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Hawes is one of the league’s better floor-spacing big men, but he checked out on the Sixers’ miserable season weeks ago. Even a committed Hawes isn’t a very formidable defender, so a clear lack of effort lately in Philadelphia made his work in coverage egregious. Whether a trade to a more competitive team will sharpen his focus remains to be seen, particularly when the Cavs — though at least trying to make the playoffs this season — are only better by a matter of degrees.
Still, a motivated Hawes would at least help Cleveland to spread the floor for Kyrie Irving’s and Dion Waiters’ work off the dribble. The bigger question is whether only a few months of that offensive influence is worth multiple draft picks. Hawes is on a $6.6 million expiring contract, meaning the Cavs could be left without any long-term return if he opts to sign elsewhere as a free agent this summer.
Hawes, 25, is averaging career highs of 13 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 31.4 minutes. He is shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from three-point range. His 81 threes are more than double his previous career high.
Clark, 26, averaged 5.2 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.5 minutes in 45 games for Cleveland. He is making $4.25 million this season, the last guaranteed year of his contract.
Sims, who went undrafted from Georgetown in 2012, averaged 8.4 minutes in 20 games with the Cavaliers.
Cavaliers’ Grade: C
I like Hawes as a player more than most, but there’s some fuzzy logic at work here. Cleveland spent its last 48 hours exploring the trade market for Luol Deng, reportedly out of fear that the newly acquired forward would not want to re-sign with the Cavs this summer. Then, on the other line, the same management team completed a deal to part with a few more draft picks (on top of the three it gave up to get Deng) in exchange for another unrestricted free agent facing similar disincentive to re-sign. There’s sure to be a richer market for Deng than Hawes, but if the concern is the team’s inability to convince its own free agents to stay, why double down on the risk with so little to be gained?
In this case, the Cavs are making a move for a frontcourt piece as a means to bolster their playoff candidacy. Understanding the franchise’s intentions (and internal pressures) to compete immediately, that’s all well and good; the Eastern Conference is vulnerable enough that the 10th place Cavs are still in the thick of it. Renting out Hawes, though, doesn’t dramatically improve Cleveland’s postseason chances nor create much added benefit beyond this season. Securing the seventh or eighth seed would be nice for a franchise that has stomached such tumult, but it would only result in a quick exit by the hand of the Pacers or Heat before Hawes would be faced with his free agency. Were he to re-sign with Cleveland, he would almost necessarily stand in the way of players like Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller, and Anthony Bennett from getting playing time and developmental opportunity. Were he to sign elsewhere, then the Cavs would have lost two second round picks in the wind.
Those picks aren’t so valuable as to make this deal ridiculous, and Cleveland had stuffed its pockets with draft considerations so it would have the freedom to make moves like this one down the line. I don’t begrudge the Cavs’ activity. There just isn’t much to be accomplished with a move like this one, wherein the payoff is marginal at best with a clear cost upfront.
Sixers’ Grade: B
This deal might not meet Sam Hinkie’s lofty asking price for Hawes, but landing a pair of second rounders without taking on any salary beyond this season is about as close to target as could be expected. A team in Philly’s position wouldn’t have much use for a player like Hawes going forward, and thus would see no benefit from keeping him around for the final few months of his contract. Even with that understood throughout the league, the Sixers were still able to trade the few remaining months of Hawes’ deal into something of more lasting value.
Scoff at second-round picks if you will, but they afford NBA teams an uncommon flexibility with first-year players and are prime for packaging on draft night to secure even better picks. Either end is helpful for a team in the Sixers’ position, particularly when all that’s at stake are a few months of Hawes’ uncaring efforts on a losing team. Philadelphia’s rebuild rolls on, now with a few more assets than before.