Only 13 games into the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are currently 6-7, have already seen plenty of ups and downs throughout the early part of the season. Whether it’s playing down to their competition and suffering embarrassing losses, beating teams like the Wizards, Bucks (twice) and Celtics, it’s been quite the rollercoaster so far as the wine and gold seem to still be trying to find their way with a new-look roster.
Although they are without arguably their third-best player in Isaiah Thomas as he recovers from a torn labrum, the team still seems to be in need of a big man. With Tristan Thompson out for most of November with a left calf strain, that has become even more apparent. Cleveland has struggled on the board so far this season, totaling just 41.7 rebounds per game, which is tied for 23rd in the NBA.
The rebounding struggles were quite a problem in the Cavs 117-113 loss to the Rockets last Thursday, in a game that the wine and gold could have easily won if they could have gotten some rebounds. Houston not only outrebound the Cavs, 45-26, but they also grabbed 17 offensive rebounds as well, something that was hard for the Cavaliers to stop.
With all that said, even when Thompson returns, the wine and gold will likely still be in search of a legitimate big man who can not only score, but control the boards as well. In the trade that sent point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Bucks, center Greg Monroe was sent to the Suns. With Phoenix all but tanking this season, they have no need for the big man and would love to trade Monroe if at all possible. According to cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, the Cavs are interested in trading for him.
The Cavs don’t currently view Jahlil Okafor as a fit. As for Greg Monroe, the interest in him would be higher, sources indicated to me. Monroe is 6-11 and 265 pounds, but he isn’t really a shot blocker (which Cleveland lacks). He’s a scorer (though, this season, he’s averaging just 6.8 points per game). The Cavs, though flawed, have a crowded rotation already, so pursuing Monroe in any way would probably follow or coincide with other roster changes.
Although he has struggled so far this season, the seventh-overall pick in the 2010 draft has played quite well during his eight-year career so far. Monroe has averaged 14 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.1 steals in 29.5 minutes per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 70.5 percent from the free-throw line in 543 games (401 starts). After starting for much of his first fives season with the Pistons, Monroe also has plenty of experience coming off the bench after not starting a single game of the 81 games that he played in during the 2016-17 season in Milwaukee. Last season, he had a #nice plus-6.9 net rating with the Bucks while coming off the bench the entire year.
The 6-foot-11 center will not only be a much-needed guy in the middle with plenty of experience, but he will also added a scorer and rebounder down low, whether it be as a starter or with the second unit. The 27-year-old would definitely be an upgrade, especially if the Cavs don’t have to give up much to acquire Monroe.
The biggest problem in potential deal that would bring Monroe to the wine and gold is the big man’s $17.9 million salary. The Cavs would have to come close to matching that salary in order to make the trade, which would obviously be tough to do while not giving up too much talent. If Cleveland were to make a trade with the tanking Suns for Monroe, they would want it to be a deal that they win by a wide margin, at least in terms of this season. While he will make almost $18 million this season, the center will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Like Thompson, Monroe will also be out until about the end of November due to soreness in his left calf. If the Cavs are interested in the big man, I assume that they will make sure the injury is not significant and it will not bother him after he returns to the court.