Kevin Love hasn’t been historically known as even an average defender, and Cleveland has a shortage of bigs on the roster, needing to rely heavily on Anderson Varejao and the likes of Brendan Haywood to produce on that end of the floor as part of the team’s frontcourt rotation.
Varejao is fine when healthy, but appeared in just 65 games last year, and just 25, 25 and 31 in the three seasons prior. The Cavaliers are all-in on trying to win now, so it would make sense to do whatever they can to improve what now looks to be the one weakness on the roster.
“The guy the Cavs are trying to trade for is Timofey Mozgov from the Denver,” said Windhorst, during a radio appearance for ESPN Cleveland. “He played with David Blatt on the Russian national team — a starter quality guy who can defend a little bit, makes about $3 million bucks. … But Denver’s not giving him up. That’s the guy they want to get their hands on, that would be a nice addition. But they haven’t been able to do that deal so far.”
Mozgov is under contract for $4.65 million next season, and the Nuggets have a team option for just under $5 million for the year after that.
Salary isn’t the issue, however; it appears to be the lack of assets being offered on Cleveland’s side that have things at a stand-still.
Windhorst says that the non-guaranteed contracts of players that Cleveland traded for earlier this summer is what has been offered to this point, but it’s unclear why Denver would be motivated to make a trade like this.
Mozgov started in 30 games for a Nuggets team that was decimated by injury a season ago, and played all 82 as part of the team’s regular rotation. He averaged career-bests of 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per contest, and Denver was noticeably better defensively when Mozgov was on the floor.
His ability to defend and familiarity with Cleveland’s new head coach would indeed seem to make Mozgov a perfect fit for what the Cavaliers are lacking. But whether or not Cleveland can put together a strong enough offer to land him in trade remains to be seen.