Trade Deadline Marathon: Day 30
Utah Jazz receive: Kevin Love, Channing Frye
Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Derrick Favors, Grayson Allen, Thabo Sefolosha, 2019 first-round pick (top 12-protection in 2019)
Derrick Favors’ name is one that is constantly in Utah Jazz trade rumours, and every year it seems as if the longest-tenured Jazz player is closer to heading out the door. Utah have persisted with a Favors and Rudy Gobert frontcourt for several seasons, but it may be time to pull the plug on Favors, and look at a better frontcourt partner; Kevin Love.
The spacing issues caused by the Gobert and Favors pairing has already been raised, with the Jazz looking much better overall with Jae Crowder playing at the four. Having an even more consistent scoring threat from long-range like Love would drastically improve the Jazz’s chances heading into the end of the season.
Despite Love’s whopping 4-year $120 million extension granted in the summer, he still remains an attractive option to provide front-court spacing for the Jazz. Soon to be 31, and with no timetable set for his return from his left toe injury, there would be some risk in Utah going after a player who’s durability has never been a strong point.
Missing at least 22 games per season since 2016-17, Love’s long-term value is up for debate, but he is someone who is potentially attainable, according to Marc Stein from The New York Times.
A five-time All Star with a career mark of 37% shooting from 3-point range (41% last season), there isn’t too many better purely basketball fits for Love than a spot in the Utah starting-five. Creating space for Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum to work with, Utah’s offence would have a much better flow.
Then defensively, the Jazz’s hard-working defence would be able to mask Love’s deficiencies in that area, and let him focus on scoring the basketball. Playing as the centre in line-ups featuring more of Utah’s second-unit would also be an option for coach Quin Snyder to consider, letting Exum, Kyle Korver and Jae Crowder work alongside Love in more offensive units.
Acquiring Love would also drastically help Mitchell’s efficiency and growth, with Utah’s poor 3-point percentage (34%, 23rd in the NBA), allowing teams to clog the lane and halt Mitchell’s explosive drives into the paint. Replacing Favors with Love would give the Jazz another shooter to drag defenders away from the paint, and also give Mitchell another option to kick out to on drives.
The aforementioned line-up options featuring Love at the five, alongside Korver, Ingles and Crowder, would give Mitchell a surplus of options to find on the perimeter, along with creating maximum space for the sophomore to exploit.
The Cavaliers were content in having Love lead the second post-LeBron era in Cleveland when they extended his contract in the summer, and looked to stay relevant in the Eastern Conference. With Love only featuring in 4 games this season before going down with injury, the Cavaliers have a league-worst record of 8-32, and have looked towards rebuilding.
With trading Korver to the Jazz, and JR Smith looking for a new home, Cleveland have embraced giving opportunities to rookie Collin Sexton, alongside younger Cavaliers like Cedi Osman and Larry Nance Jr. When Love returns from injury, his fit is an awkward one with a team looking to start again, and moving the 2-time All-NBA player would accelerate that process.
Getting Grayson Allen would be another good move for the Cavaliers going forward, with his $2.4 million for 2019-20 guaranteed, and guards Rodney Hood and Alec Burks hitting unrestricted free agency.
Allen hasn’t featured much in Snyder’s plans this season, only averaging 9.7 minutes in 17 games through the year and getting more burn in the G-League for the Salt Lake City Stars.
There he has averaged 15.7 points, highlighting his shooting with a 38% mark from 3-point range, so there is still promise for the 21st pick out of Duke, and talent for Cleveland to utilise more frequently.
Both Thabo Sefolosha and Favors won’t figure to be in the plans of the Cavaliers, though guaranteeing the latter’s salary to use as a trade piece for more young assets or picks would not be a bad move for Cleveland. Both players would also be looked at by contenders if on the buyout market, particularly Favors as a frontcourt dynamo off the bench.
Cleveland sending Channing Frye to Utah also makes sense for the rebuilding Cavaliers, with the 35-year old averaging a career low 9.6 minutes per night and not part of future plans. By contrast, Frye would bring some much-needed veteran championship experience to Utah, along with some more perimeter shooting (37% from 3-point range this season).
While the Jazz will be eager to look at free agent forwards like Kawhi Leonard, Khris Middleton or Tobias Harris, the threat of bigger market teams like those in Los Angeles will limit the smaller market Utah’s chances in securing players of this calibre.
Losing a potentially solid bench player like Allen alongside a veteran wing and a first-rounder in pursuit of a perfectly-fitting starter, should be an easy choice for the Jazz to make. Whether Cleveland will be as eager to make the move will need to be patiently observed.