5 Players the Cleveland Cavaliers Could Be Looking to Target with Their Trade Exceptions

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The Cleveland Cavaliers recently dealt center Brendan Haywood and small forward Mike Miller along with two second-round draft picks to the Portland Trail Blazers. In this unique deal, the Cavaliers did not get any players or draft picks in return. Instead, they acquired two traded player exceptions, one worth $10.5 million and the other worth $2.94 million. In addition, the Cavs also received cash in the trade.

By owning these two separate traded player exceptions, the Cavs can hold onto them for up to a year and deal for a player or players making approximately the same amount the exception is worth. For example, the Cavs can use the $10.5 million exception to trade for a player making approximately $10 million.

This will be very helpful for the Cavaliers as they enter the 2015-16 season. The Cavs are already well over the salary cap and still have the contracts of J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson to consider. Their luxury tax will likely be an NBA record high, so having the traded player exception will allow them to hold onto a trade asset that they will not have to pay.

Just recently, the Cavs took advantage of a trade exception when they dealt one along with two first rounders to the Denver Nuggets for center Timofey Mozgov.

The expectation is that a similar deal could be struck at some point during this coming season. Once teams start seeing their playoff hopes slip away, they might be inclined to deal a player for the trade exception and a draft pick to clear cap space and build for the future.

While it is difficult to predict which teams will be heading to the playoffs and which will be trading away potential talent, here are five possible trade targets for the Cavs to use their trade exception(s).

1. Lance Stephenson, PG/SG, Los Angeles Clippers

Lance Stephenson Charlotte Hornets

Some might find the thought of trading for the enigmatic Stephenson questionable. He has a history of pestering LeBron James in playoff duels when the two were in Indiana and Miami respectively. Stephenson also was just acquired by the Clippers this offseason, so why would they be in a hurry to ship away a player that was acquired to bolster their thin bench?

A couple of things would have to happen in order for this trade to make sense for both teams. First, the Cavaliers would need the added backcourt depth that Stephenson would add. The Cavs seem to have strong depth at the point guard position, but questions remain as to how much help the team will have in regards to shooting guard depth.

Second, Stephenson would need to outlast his brief stay in Los Angeles. The Clippers will likely be a contender in the West, so they will be in no hurry to unload talent. However, with the acquisition of Paul Pierce, the Clippers might be willing to part with Stephenson if they feel they can make up his contributions with other parts.

The Cavs proved last season that their locker room is stable enough to handle a player with a reputation of being difficult to manage. When the Cavaliers brought Smith in from New York, many questioned if it would be a good fit. The Cavs made it work, so the thought on rolling the dice on a player like Stephenson might not be as crazy as some would think.

Next: Arron Afflalo

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A former sports editor at Gannon University, Jeff is currently a 10th-12th grade Language Arts teacher and head golf coach at Girard High School in Girard, PA. In addition to holding a love of reading and the written word, Jeff is also passionate for all things related to Cleveland, New York City and Bruce Springsteen. Writing influences include Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman.