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NBA trade rumors 2016: Cavaliers have 'strong interest' in Ryan Anderson, but why?

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Maybe it's because Kevin Love is going elsewhere after all.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers are discussing a trade to acquire Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson and there's still a small possibility that deal morphs into a three-team blockbuster involving Kevin Love, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. That bigger deal is "still in play," according to Isola.

It appears that bigger deal would involve Love heading to the Celtics, according to CSN New England's A Sherrod BlakelyYahoo! Sports' Marc Spears confirmed the Cavaliers' "strong interest" in Anderson.

Anderson would be an obvious replacement for Love, which is why the Celtics are reportedly involved. But Cleveland could also acquire him to join Love through several different machinations.

Anderson is in the final year of his contract, and the struggling Pelicans would look to recoup value before risking him departing in free agency. He's expected to receive offers north of $16 million a season in the larger cap environment. The sweet-shooting forward is averaging nearly 17 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes per game while hitting 38 percent of his three-point attempts.

Why the Cavaliers will acquire Anderson

This is unclear unless Love is on the move to another team. Anderson duplicates Love's skill set, all the way down to their shaky defense. Cleveland does have the roster mechanisms to acquire Anderson -- they own a $10.5 million trade exception that can absorb Anderson's salary, and they can also send out players like Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov, who have been rumored to be available. But it's hard to see how Anderson fits when they already have Love, Mozgov, Tristan Thompson and occasionally LeBron James up front.

If Love is going to the Celtics or elsewhere, however, replacing him with Anderson and other role players may end up being a net plus overall. Anderson can replicate 85 percent of Love's skill set. He is an excellent perimeter shooter, can still score in the post against mismatches and is a fine offensive rebounder. Love is a little better at each (though his shooting percentages are down this year), but Anderson's not that far behind. If the Cavaliers can fill Love's role with Anderson, find the taller wing defender they need and/or upgrade elsewhere, they may ultimately become a more complete team.

Why the Cavaliers won't acquire Anderson

For one, Anderson isn't Love. The Cavaliers haven't closed the door on moving Love, but are seeking a star in return rather than a collection of role players, according to ESPN. Anderson is a nice player, but he isn't a star. Love's reputation has taken a beating recently, but he's a significantly better player than Anderson.

For another, that reported mandate about trading Love makes it hard to see him in another jersey. Thus, if Love is still on the Cavaliers, Anderson simply doesn't fit. The Cavaliers may be desperate for a title and may not care about their team's payroll, but surely they can find a player that fills their needs more effectively with the few trade assets they have.

Likelihood

If Love is on the move to Boston, acquiring Anderson to replace him is logical. If Love is staying put, then there's little point in adding Anderson's skill set. This one seems fairly cut and dry.

IF LOVE IS TRADED: 7/10

IF LOVE STAYS: 2/10