Dwyane Wade supplanting J.R. Smith and Kevin Love moving to center to send Tristan Thompson to the bench having gotten the most attention, but the Cavaliers are making another interesting change to their rotation.
Channing Frye is out.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue told Channing Frye that, barring injury, he’s not going to play much this season.
“I was like man I’m sorry,” Lue said, recounting his conversation with Frye to reporters after the Cavaliers lost 102-94 to the Wizards in a preseason game Sunday. “(Frye) said, ‘listen, I’m very excited about our team, not too many opportunities to get to play on a team like this.'”
Frye was a mainstay last regular season and through the first and second rounds, but he lost his rotation spot in the conference finals against the Celtics and in the NBA Finals against the Warriors. Deep in the playoffs, his defense becomes too much of a liability.
Now, when the Cavs need a stretch five, they have Love. Frye isn’t a change of pace anymore. He’s just a lesser alternative.
Lue still spoke of Frye needing to be ready, and said the veteran would eventually get opportunities. Injuries happen. Experiments fizzle.
But if the Cavaliers don’t have a clear use for Frye, they ought to consider trading him. They need to drop one player with a guaranteed salary, and although Richard Jefferson has been the top name mentioned, Frye’s $7,420,912 salary makes him a logical candidate.
Cleveland is set to pay the repeater-rate luxury tax. Dumping Frye in a trade without taking back any salary would put the Cavs in line to save $35,469,861 more than waiving Jefferson would. (Of course, Jefferson could also be dealt in a salary dump, though dropping his $2.5 million salary would save less money.)
It’s unclear what the market would be for the 34-year-old Frye, who’s in the final year of his contract. He’s still a knockdown 3-point shooter, and he’ll at least rebound defensively. He’s also known as a positive presence in the locker room. The Cavaliers might need to include a sweetener to dump him – a draft pick and/or cash, which would cut into their savings. But Frye could help some teams on the court.
Or Cleveland could just keep him for his positive effect on chemistry and the chance his number will eventually be called.