The Cavaliers are underwhelming at best to this point of the season, sitting at just 15-10 in the dreadful Eastern Conference and not looking nearly as dominant as many projected when the latest iteration of a super-team centered around LeBron James was assembled this past summer.
Corey Brewer would have been a nice complementary piece, a capable wing defender who is as athletic as they come, and who can also get loose for an offensive outburst at times.
Brewer was on the market, but Cleveland GM David Griffin passed.
The Rockets swooped in and traded for Brewer, while Griffin decided that trying to add a defensive big man down the road is a more important piece that would fill a more pressing need.
From Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via HoopsHype):
Cavs General Manager David Griffin did not seriously consider trading for Corey Brewer. He wanted to hang on to his $5.3 million trade exception. A major problem was Minnesota wanting two upper level second-round picks. The Cavs didn’t have those. Nor were the Cavs willing to trade their future first-round pick (protected and belonging to Memphis) …
Griffin has decided to wait, his goal being to add another big man — one who can block some shots and rebound. The trading deadline is February 19, and there may be some big men available close to the deadline.
If Griffin had made a strong bid for Brewer, that would have been the Cavs main in-season move. The salary cap would have prevented most other deals. The trade option is the key because it allows a team to get rid of a contract (as Minnesota did with Brewer), but not take back much money.
Griffin is correct in that the Cavaliers desperately need to improve their defense; they’re tied with the (expletive) Pistons for 23rd in the league in defensive efficiency.
Brewer would have helped in that regard, but it’s really all about lineup machinations. And at this point, 25 games into the season, Griffin believes his team needs more help in the paint than it does on the wing to fix its woeful defense.