Timofey Mozgov has seen his minutes steadily decline all season long. The first 10 games of the season he was starting and playing 21 minutes a night, but Cleveland is going smaller with a front line of Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love starting up front and Mozgov playing less and less off the bench (15.2 per game in his last 10 and just 4.5 minutes in the Cavaliers win against Washington).
That has other teams calling to see of Mozgov is available via trade, reports Marc Spears at Yahoo Sports. The answer is no.
While the Cavaliers have expressed no interest in moving Mozgov, the 7-foot-1 center’s loss of his starting job, the franchise’s NBA-high payroll and his looming free agency could ultimately persuade Cleveland to make a deal. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 18.
If you are Cleveland, there are two competing ideas with potentially trading Mozgov.
The first is on the court this season — they may be playing Mozgov fewer minutes now, but he has a particular skill set that could be a handy matchup come the playoffs. Rim protectors have value. If the Cavaliers were to run into Detroit with Andre Drummond, or Toronto with Jonas Valanciunas, the Cavs might want Mozgov’s size and muscle inside.
But the other is financial, and Spears lays out that case for moving him.
Mozgov, 29, will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer and is expected to receive strong interest and a lucrative long-term deal. The Cavs’ plan is to attempt to re-sign him, but a return could be less attractive for Mozgov if his reduced role continues. Cleveland, however, does own his Bird Rights, and he is eligible for a five-year extension with the franchise. The Cavaliers have $103 million committed in salary next season. If the franchise were to sign Mozgov to a $10 million annual deal – and his value could be more on the market – it would likely cost the Cavaliers over $26 million in salary and luxury tax.
There is a legitimate “move him so you can get something for him” thought process here.
Ultimately it will depend on the offers coming back. Consider this something to keep an eye on.