Cavaliers, Headlines

Timberwolves have “strong interest” in Cavs’ Iman Shumpert

Iman Shumpert Cleveland Cavaliers
Scott Sargent/WFNY

Slam dunks, three-point shots, and a game without defense were supposed to highlight the NBA All-Star weekend, but the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings stole the headlines by making a gargantuan trade involving DeMarcus Cousins. Though time still exists before the NBA’s trade deadline this Thursday at 3 p.m. EST, the Kings and Pelicans were the first domino in what could be an active few days on the league’s transaction page.

Rumors have long been swirling about the Cleveland Cavaliers, including a Kevin Love for Carmelo Anthony deal that was quickly nixed by the wine and gold. Another potential target seems more tradeable, however. On Sunday, AmicoHoops’ Sam Amico reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves are quite interested in acquiring Cavs guard Iman Shumpert.

The 26-year-old is averaging 7.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 25.4 minutes per game while shooting 43 percent from the floor and 40 percent from beyond the arc. Shumpert has played much better since being inserted into the starting lineup following J.R. Smith’s thumb injury. In 15 games as a starter, the guard is averaging 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists while shooting 43 percent from the field and a career-high 40 percent from long distance in 28.9 minutes per game. He has been a much better shoot from three-point range as a starter (45 percent) compared to coming off the bench (37 percent). Most importantly, in today’s landscape, he’s a starting caliber guard under contract for just a little over 10 million next season with a club option for 2018-19.

The question is, who would Cleveland demand from the Timberwolves if conversations began to brew involving Shumpert? The obvious player is point guard Ricky Rubio.

The Cavs have been in search of a legitimate backup point guard that can come off the bench, lead the bench unit, and take some of the burden off of both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Whether it’s been Shelvin Mack, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, or Jameer Nelson, or the fact that the Cavs hosted free agent tryout, general manager David Griffin seems to be pulling out all the stops to find the backup point guard that the Cavs need heading down the stretch run of the regular season. Rubio could be the next name on the list.

The 26-year-old is averaging a career-low 8.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 8.4 assists, and 1.8 steals in 32.1 minutes per game (51 games). He’s not much of a shooter, shooting a career-high 39 percent from the field and 28 percent from long distance. Although he’s not known for his outside shot, Rubio would be the main distributor for the bench unit that the Cavs have needed since the beginning of the season.

The biggest problem in potentially acquiring the point guard would be his contract. Prior to the 2015-16 season, Rubio signed a four-year, $55 million deal with the Timberwolves. This season, he is due $13.4 million, and the two next years, he is due even more than that ($14.1 million in 2017-18, $14.8 in 2018-19) before becoming a free agent in the summer of 2019.

Keep in mind, due to the Cavs being well over the cap, adding the 6-foot-4 point guard wouldn’t just be another $13.4 million check that owner Dan Gilbert would have to write, but would also cost the wine and gold (and Gilbert) an additional $43.55 million ($3.25 in tax per new dollar spent because it’s over $600,000) in luxury taxes. Gilbert’s pockets are deep, but paying that much for a backup point guard seems far from ideal.

The Timberwolves may be interested in Shumpert, but with the way he has been playing, it takes two teams in order to make a trade happen. If they want him, it would most likely take more than just Rubio coming to Cleveland. Buckle up.

  • The_Matt_of_Akron

    Fine. We’ll take Towns also, but you owe us one Minnesota!

  • Natedawg86

    Would we rather rave shump than Rubio?

  • Chris

    Do I understand the second-to-last paragraph correctly? The tax would be paid on Rubio’s entirely salary and not just the net difference of Rubio/Shumpert? 43 million seems absurdly high.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Shumpert and it’s not even a question.

  • Natedawg86

    I believe it is shump-Rubio x3.75 or something crazy like that for luxury tax. Since we are over Gilbert will pay sal plus ridiculous tax

  • Natedawg86

    Maybe they will throw in Bennett

  • Chris

    Shump is making about 9.0 million this year, and Josh said Rubio is making 13.4 million (with a difference of 4.4 million this year). We’re roughly 2/3 through the season, so that’s only adding about 1.5 million for the rest of the year, plus tax. Unless the tax is on Rubio’s total season salary (why would it?), I don’t see how this adds up to 43 million.

    Again, I’m not sure I understand all of this correctly, which is why I’m asking for clarification.

  • JM85

    No. Shump will be badly needed in the Finals against GS.

  • woofersus

    Rubio would be a nice backup PG to have, but I don’t know about Shumpert for Rubio. Anybody know how Rubio is at on-ball defense? Shump is playing pretty darn well this year.

  • scripty

    This was just floated out by the Cavs to create any sort of market for Shump

  • A.J.

    Amico is a hack that’s never broken a story in his life. Zach Lowe tweeted the same thing back in October.

  • Saggy

    How could this be a 1for1 deal, considering their salaries? Would the Cavs be using their trade exception, i assume? So that gets them to 13.4. They still need to make up another $7-8million to get Carmelo.

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  • Jaker

    Shump>Rubio. Yes RR will be the best backup PG we can get, but it’s not worth losing a starter who has really improved this year… Especially when we can get a decent backup for Liggins or McRae (even though I think those 2 can do well if given a real chance)

  • BenRM

    I agree that Shump is better than Rubio. But there’s no way we get a decent backup for Liggins or McRae. Those two have no value.

  • Jaker

    We got Kyle Korver for Dunleavy. We got Moz and a 2nd for 2 late 1st rounders. They even got JR Smith, Iman Shumpert and a 1st rounder for Dion Waiters and a 2nd… There is definitely a way to get Shelvin Mack or Jameer Nelson for McRae/Liggins/Draft Picks/Money/Playoff Tickets.

  • BenRM

    With the exception of Korver for Dunleavy (which still makes no sense to me how that happened) the real assets in those trades were the picks.

    Liggins/McRae are just dudes you throw in to try to make contracts match.

  • Jaker

    Fine, they’re just dudes… but the point I was trying to make is that they can get a capable backup PG without giving up Shump or any rotational guy.

    I am very confident the Cavs will get Shelvin Mack, Jameer Nelson, Deron Williams or another decent backup PG without touching the rotation.

  • A.J.

    Bingo. Amico is a Cavaliers sycophant toady.

  • Wordsworth_from_Wadsworth

    Well, I agree with the comments that Shump will be needed to defense GS guards. I agree Rubio would be bad cap value. However, Rubio’s play making would take tremendous pressure off the minutes of LBJ and Kyrie. Rubio would make the second unit with Korver and Frye, then Love and J.R. much more effective. Rubio worth it? Probably not. But they better find another point. Also a legitimate center for the Pelicans.