Recently, in a Russian media interview, Timofey Mozgov was inquired about the possibility of playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers to join forces with LeBron James. Although, the Russian native commended James, as well as head coach, David Blatt, he never demanded a trade or expressed a desire to actually play for Cleveland.
“Of course, it would be interesting to play for David Blatt’s team. I know his coaching philosophy well, after working with him on the Russian national team,” said Mozgov. “I would like to play with LeBron. But even though playing for a contender is cool, you got to understand that I want to be a part of the team and not just join a contender and ride the coattails, being a burden.”
As expected, these comments in addition to the Cavs need for rim protection sparked a media frenzy. Obviously, the networks had a field day with this quote, sparking all sorts of rumors, despite Mozgov not demanding a trade.
“So far all the talks about trade to Cleveland are just rumors. My last season in Denver was good, and to try and do something to leave the team wouldn’t be smart.”
Although, Cleveland expressed a desire for a defensive rim presence, an exchange with the Denver Nuggets is unlikely.
Furthermore, the Cavaliers are reluctant to surrender anyone of value. The contracts that appear expendable are those of John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas, and Erik Murphy. With the exception of $100,000 in Murphy’s deal, these players can be acquired and waived without expense. Additionally, Brendan Haywood is someone who could be involved in a deal as well, as Cleveland’s search for a backup center continues.
Initially, Haywood was acquired via a trade with the Charlotte Hornets this off-season. Although Haywood is a 12 year veteran and NBA champion, injuries have been a concern. The center has registered 70 plus games in just six out of 12 seasons, including a missed 13’-14’ campaign due to a foot injury. His $2 million due this year plus his nonguaranteed $10.5 million the following season makes Haywood an appealing trading chip.
Providing that a trade is successful, the Cavaliers would gain a developing, young asset. In his previous three seasons, Mozgov never appeared in more than 45 games a season. Last year, he played in 82 games with 30 starts. The Russian set career highs with 9.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game. The incorporation of his offensive potential would help, but his defensive presence would strike fear into the hearts of opponents.