INDEPENDENCE — The Cavaliers got a solid center prior to the NBA trade deadline Thursday without giving up much.
Cleveland sent two second-round picks and seldom-used forwards Earl Clark and Henry Sims to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Spencer Hawes, who could become the Cavs’ starter once he gets acclimated.
“Time for the next stage of my career, and I can’t wait to get started in Cleveland,” Hawes posted on his Twitter page.
The Cavs waived their right to have Hawes take a physical and he was scheduled to meet his new teammates and coaches Thursday night in Toronto. The plan is for him to go through shootaround this morning and be on the active roster tonight against the Raptors.
“He’s a player we look at as being a real good complementary fit to what we do from a frontcourt standpoint in terms of spacing and passing the basketball,” Cavs acting general manager David Griffin said at a press conference at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “He complements each of our bigs very well.
“We’re a draw-and-kick team. We need to open the floor to make it easier for (the guards).”
The 7-foot-1, 245-pound Hawes, who is earning $6.5 million in the final year of his contract, is averaging 13.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while shooting .451 from the field overall, .399 from behind the arc and .782 at the line.
The 25-year-old, taken by Sacramento with the No. 10 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft out of Washington, is 81-for-203 on 3-pointers this season, which should help the red-hot Cavs as they continue their playoff push.
“We want to get better, period,” Griffin said. “We want to get better for the short and long term. There is no playoffs-or-bust mandate. It’s not about that. This is about growing this group for an extended period of time.
“None of us got in this to make the playoffs. We have a very clear directive (from owner Dan Gilbert). We’re in this to win championships.”
Hawes’ production dipped to 9.0 points and 7.8 rebounds in his last 10 games with the 76ers — he was badly outplayed by Cleveland’s Tyler Zeller on Tuesday — but Griffin attributed that to all the trade rumors surrounding the center.
“When you’re on a young team that wasn’t winning, like, say, us before we went on a six-game winning streak, a lot of things you don’t control weigh on you a lot more,” the GM said.
Some weight will definitely be taken off the shoulders of center Anderson Varejao, who has missed the last four games with a sore back and did not travel with the team to Toronto.
Hawes’ presence will allow Varejao, when healthy, to play less minutes and perhaps return to coming off the bench, which was the Brazilian’s role when Andrew Bynum was in Cleveland.
“It would be great to not have to rely on (Varejao) for 43 minutes when we’re trying to win a game,” Griffin said. “Anderson gives you everything he has every second he’s on the floor. You’re not going to dial that back.”
As for signing Hawes beyond this season, Griffin said, “If we build the kind of environment we want to build, decisions like those take care of themselves.”
Even with Hawes’ impending free agency, the deal was sort of a no-brainer for Griffin, who didn’t have to give up much.
Clark, signed by former GM Chris Grant in the offseason, began the season as the Cavs’ starting small forward but eventually fell totally out of the rotation. He averaged 5.2 points in his brief stint in Cleveland.
Sims earned a roster spot in training camp and had been seeing some action recently with Varejao out, but he spent most of the season on the bench. He averaged 2.2 points.
The second-round picks Cleveland gave up were its own in 2014 and another in the same draft that was acquired from Memphis.
“We have a very elite group of talent that we believe in at a very high level,” Griffin said. “(Gilbert) and I believe in this team and we believe in this coaching staff. They can succeed.”
Griffin listened to other offers, but said the team did not come close to trading small forward Luol Deng. The most serious discussions appeared to be with Washington, but a rumored deal for small forward Trevor Ariza never happened.
Griffin said he spoke individually with Deng and several other players before the Cavs left for Toronto, and added that coach Mike Brown addressed the team as a whole.
“Luol’s in a very good place with this,” Griffin said. “He wants what we all want, which is to be successful.”
Cleveland also reportedly shopped second-year center Zeller, whose playing time figures to be cut drastically once Varejao is healthy. The Los Angeles Clippers showed some interest, but apparently asked for more than the Cavs wanted to give up for swingman Reggie Bullock.
The Cavs listened to offers for veteran guard Jarrett Jack as well, with Minnesota and Sacramento showing some interest.
The Kings reportedly wanted Cleveland to take on power forward Jason Thompson’s contract, which will pay him more than $19 million over the next three seasons.
The Minnesota talks centered around point guard J.J. Barea, but did not come to fruition.
Hawes, a devout Republican, once had former Philadelphia teammate Evan Turner over to his house, where Turner refused to use the President Barack Obama toilet paper in the bathroom.
“Spencer is a guy, politically, who might be a little further right than I am, but I’m going to be fine with him,” Griffin said.
The GM said he spoke to a number of Hawes’ former teammates and coaches and got glowing reports about the center’s character.
“Spencer made a statement he regrets,” Griffin said. “It’s not who Spencer is and it’s not how Spencer lives. I have no concern about it of any kind.”
- Varejao received a shot to lesson swelling and discomfort in his back, but Griffin said it wasn’t a cortisone shot. The Cavs are hopeful Varejao will return soon.
- Dion Waiters (hyperextended knee) and C.J. Miles also did not travel to Toronto, meaning rookie Sergey Karasev might be forced into action.
- Griffin said the Cavs would look to fill the open spot they have on the 15-man roster, but added there was no sense of urgency.
- A lot of media members are expected to be on hand tonight to talk to No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, who grew up in a suburb of Toronto and will be playing his first NBA game there.