INDEPENDENCE — With the NBA trade deadline set for 3 p.m. today, a lot of rumors are swirling around the Cavaliers, but only one bit of business got completed Wednesday.
The Cavs, who resume play tonight at 8 at Quicken Loans Arena against the New York Knicks, did what everyone expected and signed forward Derrick Williams to a second 10-day contract.
With an open roster spot since trading Chris “Birdman” Andersen to Charlotte, the Cavs also brought in once-promising 6-foot-11, 235-pound center Larry Sanders for some physical tests and an interview designed to assess his desire to play.
In addition, there were reports of trade talk involving Cleveland combo guard Iman Shumpert. One involved Houston, but the Rockets are reportedly reluctant to part with point guard Patrick Beverley.
“I love our team,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said following practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “I love what Shump’s done for us the last three years.”
Trade winds, of course, could change in an instant leading up to the deadline, as Cavs general manager David Griffin is searching for a playmaking point guard and a big man.
Even if Cleveland doesn’t make a deal by the deadline, it could still sign a veteran who is bought out of his contract by his team. The deadline for buyouts, which historically pick up right after the trade deadline, is Wednesday.
“You wish you could trade and get all the people they say you’re going to get, but it never happens,” Lue said. “Nothing ever happens, really. You hear about 200 (rumored) trades. There’s probably two that happen.”
The Cavs will still be able to sign free agents not with an NBA team after the deadline, and the team talked to an intriguing prospect Wednesday.
Sanders, 28, hasn’t played since the 2014-15 season, when he averaged 7.3 points and 6.1 rebounds in 27 games for Milwaukee. He was twice suspended by the NBA for marijuana use, then said he had no desire to play basketball at that time in his life and was bought out of his contract by the Bucks.
A month ago, Sanders, who was treated for anxiety and depression in 2015, announced he wanted to make a comeback.
“I think it’s a mindset,” Lue said. “Does he really want to play the game and does he still love it? If his mindset is right, he’s definitely a good player.”
While there would be a low-level risk in signing Sanders to a contract for the veteran minimum, there would also be a potentially high reward, as he could be the long, athletic, dynamic rim protector the Cavs lack.
The Virginia Commonwealth product was the No. 15 pick in the 2010 draft and has averaged 6.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 233 career games. His best season was 2012-13, when he averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks.
“He’s a good dude,” Lue said. “Larry’s had some negative things said about him, but for the first time talking to him one-on-one, he’s a great guy. You never know until you’re around the person and able to talk to that person.”
Sanders played in just 23 games in 2013-14, when he was twice suspended for marijuana use, but no one has ever questioned his talent.
“He’s definitely an athlete that can go and get rebounds,” Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving said. “(He has) defensive prowess down in the paint.”
The signing of Williams, meanwhile, was no surprise. The 6-8, 245-pounder has appeared in four games with the Cavs and is averaging 9.8 points on .600 shooting and 3.0 rebounds in 22.9 minutes. When the second 10-day deal expires, Cleveland is expected to sign the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft for the rest of the season.
Whether that ends up being the only move the Cavs make prior to the trade deadline remains to be seen.
“I don’t expect anything to happen, but I don’t know,” Lue said.
- A low-level trade rumor had Cleveland talking to Utah about a deal that would send seldom-used shooting guard Jordan McRae to the Jazz for point guard Shelvin Mack. Such a deal would likely be made more with the regular season in mind than the postseason, as it would give the Cavs a point guard and allow Irving to sit out a few games. Those talks, however, had reportedly stalled.
- All-Star Game participants LeBron James and Irving were given the day off and didn’t have to attend practice. James took advantage, but Irving showed up and took part in a number of drills.
- With Kevin Love out with a knee injury, Lue said Channing Frye is his starting power forward at the moment, but added that could sometimes change.
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- Cavaliers make no moves at trading deadline, but appear to have their sights set on a couple of veteran backups
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