The Cleveland Cavaliers have already gotten in on the trade action, dealing Jon Leuer to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a first-round pick. But will that be the only wheeling and dealing the Cavs do prior to this year's deadline?
Cleveland already has a superstar in place in Kyrie Irving. Now they just need to find the right pieces to go around him. Despite Irving's best efforts, the Cavs are still one of the worst teams in the East and need a lot of help. Youngsters Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Dion Waiters are nice pieces, but they may not be the difference-makers necessary to vault Cleveland back into playoff contention. And who knows what the deal is with Anderson Varejao going forward? Varejao is out for the season after dealing with a life-threatening blood clot.
The Cavs will look to be players in free agency the next few years, and there have already been rumblings about LeBron James returning in 2014. While that's a huge long shot and still a ways away, it would not be surprising for Cleveland to make moves that not only help in the short term but also keeps the door open for a possible LeBron return.
In the interim, Cleveland will have $12 million coming off the books after this season, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. Aside from their four young draft choices and the recent acquisitions, only a partially-guaranteed contract due to C.J. Miles and Varejao's $9 million owed for next season remain.
A decision to make on Speights
Speights was the best player to come over to Cleveland in the trade with Memphis, and for the most part, has produced nicely. However, the 25-year-old has a player option for next season, and there are reports that he will opt out of his deal after the year in order to test free agency. If Speights is planning to opt out, the Cavs would probably be better served moving him.
Though Speights' player option is for only $4.5 million, any amount of cap space freed for the Cavs would be appealing, especially if they receive a first-round pick in return for the big man.
Stein reported that Speights could also be dealt for the second time this season if Cleveland general manager Chris Grant gets an offer that interests him. Omri Casspi and Daniel Gibson could be moved along with Speights.
How the team deals with Speights and Varejao could be connected, and it ultimately may have to do with the front office's opinion of Speights' upside and also its understanding of Varejao's health.
The big picture
Cleveland wants to shed as many non-expiring contracts as it can before summer hits. With a foundation for the future based around Irving, Thompson, Waiters and Zeller, there is development of young players ongoing, so the next move for the Cavaliers is freeing up every bit of cap space possible. In the short term, that could mean dealing Speights before the trade deadline.
Whether that leads to a return of LeBron James in 2014 or not, the Cavs will have the money to go after a big name free agent soon enough.
Kevin Zimmerman contributed to this article.