Mozgov Trade Shakes Things Up in Eastern Conference

Just hours after striking a deal to bring Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to Cleveland, the Cavaliers continued to work the phones Wednesday and came up with Denver Nuggets center, Timofey Mozgov (yes, this guy). This trade means a lot when it comes to assessing the NBA’s Eastern Conference landscape, as well as what the mindset of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going forward.


Who Won the Trade?

The Cavs are officially in win-now mode.

Even before center Anderson Varejao was lost for the season with an achilles injury, Cleveland still needed to add more front court depth if they wanted to compete with teams like the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. Mozgov seems to fill that void somewhat and now presumably helps Cleveland regain a foothold in the race for the Eastern Conference crown.

With all the controversy surrounding the Cavs, the team seemed to be in desperation mode to get another big man. Knowing this, Denver made sure not to give up Mozgov for free. In fact, Denver won this trade by claiming two first round picks from the Cavs. This trade also shows the mindset of the Cavs, as they seem to be in desperation mode only a couple months into the LeBron James-Kyrie Irving-Kevin Love experiment.

The Cleveland Big 3 haven't been playing up to expectations.
The Cleveland Big 3 haven’t been playing up to expectations.

Unlike his experience in Miami, LeBron and his bunch have struggled mightily thus far in terms figuring things out. With Love and LeBron both able to opt-out of their deals following this season, Cleveland’s front office definitely felt some pressure to make things better quickly; even if it means giving up the future of their team. In any case, no team would trade two first round picks for an above-average defensive center if they didn’t feel there long term plans were in jeopardy. The Cavs are officially in win-now mode.


Cleveland Back in the Mix

From the very beginning of the season, the Cavs were selected to win the Eastern Conference by almost every NBA analyst. But with a variety of injuries, internal struggles, and a lack of unselfish play, the Cavaliers have found themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to talking about the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

One thing the Bulls, Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, and Toronto Raptors all have in common is their front court depth. The Bulls and Wizards in particular bolster two of the top front courts in the NBA. After seeing the trouble Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson caused the Houston Rockets on Monday night, the Cavs knew something had to be done to match their deep rotation. Enter Timofey Mozgov.

Mozgov (25) on his former team, the Denver Nuggets, guarding the Bulls' Pau Gasol
Mozgov (25) on his former team, the Denver Nuggets, guarding the Bulls’ Pau Gasol









While Mozgov may not be the answer to the Cavs’ issues, he certainly helps when it comes to correcting the team’s poor rim protection. With Love expected to produce most of the low post offense, Mozgov will be looked upon to grab rebounds and challenge shots for his new team. The biggest question still looming for the Cavs is whether or not they’ll be able to gel in time for when the games really count.