Last time out, we took a deep dive at five possible prospects that the Cavaliers can select eighth overall in the upcoming NBA Draft. Well, while having a rookie cornerstone for the future is major key, the Cavs are in win-now mode. The team’s average roster age is 28.9, oldest in the league. Because of this, the Cavs are a consistent title threat, but they still have looked vulnerable this season.
This vulnerability has been brought to the attention of the entire world during the NBA Playoffs. Both against the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics, the Cavs have struggled with their youth and athleticism, along with some steady veterans. Cleveland should take this template and apply it to their own roster, but it may cost them the coveted Brooklyn Nets pick. Thankfully, there are a few teams that may be eyeing to move up in the draft and give the Cavs some capital along the way.
So today, we will break down five different trade scenarios involving the Nets pick that try to meet the following credentials:
- Does it add a star player?
- Does it add youth for the future?
- Does it help convince LeBron James to stay in Cleveland?
- Does it free up salary cap for the future?
5. Clippers send DeAndre Jordan sailing to The Land
After sending off Blake Griffin, the former face of the franchise, to the Detroit Pistons, it is clear that the Los Angeles Clippers are going under a major identity change. General manager Jerry West is looking for smart, savvy deals that allow the team to obtain assets while nipping at the heels of the Western Conference.
They also shipped away former star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets in a sign and trade. Heading into this summer, the Clippers can do the same with DeAndre Jordan. Jordan currently has a player option for $24.1 million for next season. He could opt in and subsequently be traded to the Cavaliers. In order to make the trade work money-wise, here is how it would break down:
- Cavaliers get: DeAndre Jordan, Sam Dekker, Pick #13 in the 2018 NBA Draft
- Clippers get: Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, Pick #8 in the 2018 NBA Draft
For the Clippers, this is a great start as they acquire a young, athletic center in Thompson, a great mentor in JR Smith, and a higher pick in the draft. With the eighth pick, LA would likely target Alabama’s Collin Sexton, who would be their point guard of the future. The Clippers also still keep their higher of two first rounders in this year’s draft.
For the Cavs, it checks all the boxes for their offseason objectives. They get a proven star and arguably the best defensive center in the league in Jordan. He would bring a steady defensive presence to the Cavs, something they have not had since Ben Wallace was roaming the paint. He also gobbles up the glass and would form a formidable tandem with Kevin Love.
Speaking of eating glass, the Cavs know how skilled Jordan is at that:
Besides Jordan, the Cavs also get a young, skilled forward in Sam Dekker. The former Wisconsin Badger had a quiet season this year with 4.2 points and 1.8 rebounds, but he has showcased a knack for scoring in a myriad of ways in his three years in the league. He would be a great backup to LeBron James in lieu of Jeff Green and could even play backup minutes for Kevin Love as well.
Speaking of James, getting Jordan from the Clippers would make the decision to stay home much easier. According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, both James and head coach Tyronn Lue sorely wanted Jordan at the trade deadline:
Now, however, they can no longer say they’re “All-In.” They cannot say they did whatever they could to keep LeBron here this time. Doing whatever they could to keep him would’ve meant dealing for DeAndre Jordan at the trade deadline, the rim-protecting center Lue coveted and James equally wanted badly. Instead, the Cavs hedged, collecting a group of twenty-somethings that can grow together in the event James is off to Houston or Philadelphia or Los Angeles or some other contender next season.
Woof. Well, the Cavs can repent their sins to the King and finally get their man. In the event trading for Jordan does not work out, he is an unrestricted free agent after next season.
Finally, even though they lose out on drafting eighth overall, the Cavs only make a slight slide to the thirteenth spot. While they would not be able to get a prospect like Wendell Carter or Collin Sexton, they can still get some fairly respectable players. One player to target would be former Villanova star Mikal Bridges, who specializes in perimeter defense and three-point shooting. Another would be Michigan State’s Miles Bridges (no relation to Mikal), who is a strong-bodied combo forward who is adept on both offense and defense.
While both Bridges’ can help lead The Land to glory, the Cavs could also look at a point guard for the future in Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Alexander was a surprise for the Wildcats last year, and at 6’6″ with a 7’0″ wingspan, he is an analytics dream.
Gilgeous-Alexander showcased a little bit of everything in his one year at the collegiate level and would be an awesome fit for the Cavs. He is a darkhorse, middle of the round style of player who could break out like Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and easily be the franchise’s long-term point guard.
In the end, this trade would be perfect for both sides and checks all the boxes for their Cleeland’s goals for this upcoming offseason.
4. Cavaliers, Hornets, Hawks do a point guard swap
Many NBA analysts are predicting the Charlotte Hornets will try their hardest to draft a point guard. After that, many also predict that the Hornets will trade Kemba Walker, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Trading away Walker would be tough for Hornets fans considering he is the best player in the franchise’s history, but they are currently stuck in a rut with no definitive direction.
Further south, the Hornets’ divisional rival, the Atlanta Hawks, are also facing some changes. After finishing with a record of 24-58, head coach Mike Budenholzer requested to be released from his contract to pursue greener pastures. Coach Bud took green to heart, as he is now the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
With a change in leadership, the Hawks may be facing a change in guard as well. Recently, Hawks point guard Dennis Schroeder told reporters for the German Basketball Federation that he would like to be traded away from Atlanta’s rebuild.
Well, here come the Cavs to save both franchises’ days! Cleveland could easily step in to fix both the Hornets and the Hawks turnover, and the Nets pick can make it happen. Here is how the trade would break down:
- Cavaliers get: Kemba Walker, Pick #19 in the 2018 NBA Draft
- Hornets get: Dennis Schroder, Pick #8 in the 2018 NBA Draft
- Hawks get: Jordan Clarkson, Dwayne Bacon, Pick #11 in the 2018 NBA Draft
By doing so, the Hornets give Walker a proper sendoff to an Eastern Conference contender in Cleveland instead of some bottom feeder. They also get a young, future star in Schroder and can focus on using the eighth pick to draft a player like Michael Porter Jr. or Wendell Carter Jr. They can begin their rebuild with a few assets while their franchise leader finally plays for championships.
For the Hawks, they get rid of a locker room dissident in Schroder and now possess three picks in the first round, as well as four within the first thirty-three. They can completely refill and retool the roster, building around their two cornerstones in Taurean Prince and John Collins. They also get a scoring guard in Jordan Clarkson who can keep fans engaged with his dynamic scoring while the rest of the team develops. They also get a promising young asset in Dwayne Bacon. The Hawks are a well-run organization and load up on young talent in a loaded draft class.
For the Cavs, they finally get the best possible replacement for Kyrie Irving in Walker. Back in 2011, a lot of mock drafts had the Cavs taking Derrick Williams and Kemba Walker at #1 and #4 instead or Irving and Thompson, and now Cavs fans finally get a taste of Walker. He is a dynamic guard who can score from anywhere and may be perfect to play alongside LeBron James. Like DeAndre Jordan from the last proposed trade, Walker also shined against the Cavs a short time ago, showcasing all of his offensive prowess:
It would be pretty cool to see Walker come full circle in his career with the team he broke a major record against.
Clearly, getting Walker would make it pretty hard for LeBron James to look away from the Cavs in free agency. Unlike Irving, Walker is more of a playmaker instead of a scorer, and he is arguably one of the best superstars the Cavs could get. King James is a master tactician and would easily find ways to go to war with Walker for The Land.
Even though the Cavs lose out on Clarkson’s scoring, they can easily remedy that with the nineteenth pick in the draft. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could still be available and would fill in nicely as the team’s sixth man and Walker’s backup. Gilgeous-Alexander’s teammate Kevin Knox could be available as well, bringing a dynamic scoring punch to the Cavs’ bench.
He would be perfect behind King James and alongside him. Knox is a scoring dynamo and really showcased it in a game against West Virginia:
In terms of salary, the Cavs are able to get rid of Clarkson’s putrid contract and would be primed heading into the 2019-20 season to swing for another superstar. This trade helps the Cavs win now and down the line as well and would be ideal with the Nets pick included.
If the Cavs are able to shed Clarkson’s contract while bringing in Walker and Knox, it would be the perfect summer for them.
3. The Pipemaster returns to Mile High status
As mentioned before, the top trio of guards in this year’s NBA Draft are Trae Young, Collin Sexton, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Sitting pretty at the eighth spot, the Cavs will likely have the ability to pick between all three. Six picks after the Cavs, the Denver Nuggets are a team in need of a steady point guard option. As a result, Nuggets general manager Artūras Karnišovas may be giving Cavs GM Koby Altman a call on draft night.
The Nuggets have plenty of intriguing players on their roster, but none that scream superstar. They do have two rising stars in Jamal Murray and Gary Harris in their backcourt. Both are cut from the same cloth in that they are solid defenders, they both make plays, and they hit it from way beyond the arc.
If Denver jumps from #14 to #8 in the 2018 NBA Draft, they may have to include one of their young stars. Here is how the trade would break down:
- Cavaliers get: Jamal Murray, Kenneth Faried, Pick #14 in the 2018 NBA Draft
- Nuggets get: JR Smith, Cedi Osman, Pick #8 in the 2018 NBA Draft
From the Nuggets’ perspective, it is hard to let Murray, the #7 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, go, but they’d have an opportunity to land one of the top two guards in the draft. The logical choice for the Nuggets would be Collin Sexton, as he fits the bill for what the team needs as a gritty defender who operates best when paired with a shooter like Harris.
The Nuggets also get a reliable bench option and locker room presence in Smith, who played for Denver for a large part of his career. They also get a Cavs’ fan-favorite in Osman who can find a solid role as a reserve defensive-minded forward who can balance the many offensive threats on the Nuggets’ roster.
The Cavs, meanwhile, check off all of their objectives in one swoop. With Murray, they get one of the league’s rising stars who would finally provide a steady option at the starting one. Murray has plenty of strengths, but one of his biggest is his three-point shooting. This season alone he connected on 37.8% of his three-point attempts, and that shooting percentage will only continue to improve.
Murray is also a solid playmaker and defender. To give a better idea of how good Murray can be, take a look at his game against the Oklahoma City Thunder this season:
After Murray, the Nuggets would send away a former fan favorite in Kenneth Faried. After Mike Malone became the Nuggets; head coach, Faried saw his numbers plummet until he was almost entirely out of the rotation.
Two seasons ago, Faried started the majority of his appearances, finishing with averages of 12.5 points and 8.7 rebounds as well as plenty of high-flying dunks. This season, he only appeared in 32 games and averaged 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds. Obviously, a change of scenery is needed.
In Cleveland, Faried can finally get a lion’s share of minutes as the team’s sixth man. He provides boundless energy and can find plenty of opportunities to throw the hammer down playing alongside LeBron James. Faried has quietly become an afterthought in the NBA, but in Cleveland, the Manimal can return.
The last piece the Cavs get in this trade is the fourteenth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander remains an option in the middle of the round, but there is another player they should consider. Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith is quickly rising up draft boards due to his physical attributes and potential. The biggest thing is his shooting stroke, which has been the center of attention during the draft combine.
Here is a sample of his offensive highlights from his season with the Red Raiders:
The potential backcourt duo of Murray and Smith is insane to imagine and would be a solid foundation for years to come.
With all these moves, the Cavs are yet again firmly in position to retain LeBron James beyond this season. They land a proven star in Murray, some much-needed bench support in Faried, and another young star in Smith. Along with all the other moves the Cavs have made this year, it pretty much forces James to sign the dotted line with Cleveland when free agency begins.
While losing a fan favorite in Smith is not easy, it is pretty easy to say goodbye to his horrendous contract. Being able to bring in Murray, Faried, and Smith on top of that is just icing on the cake.
2. The Cavs bring in the Milwaukee Middle Man
Earlier this year, we took a deep dive into ten possible trades the Cavs could make involving the Nets pick. The top possible trade would have sent Tristan Thompson, the Nets pick, and a second rounder to the Milwaukee Bucks for guards Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon. If the Cavs were able to land both of them, this is what the team would have brought on:
“A reliable three-point shooter, Middleton would find some of the easiest and most open looks of his career playing alongside players like LeBron James, and Kevin Love. He can is also a ready and willing playmaker with a career average of 4.5 assists and those numbers will only rise after sharing the floor with the above-mentioned players…
“With the Cavs inlcuding the Nets draft pick, they also should expect a player like Malcolm Brogdon to be included in the trade as well. The Cavs could not have gotten a better point guard in Brogdon. The former Rookie of the Year can pass, score both inside and beyond htthe arc, and is a talented on-ball defender as well.”
Well, fast forward to now, and Brogdon may be off the table. He has cemented himself as vital to the Bucks’ future and will not be easily moved. But, with Mike Budenholzer running the show they, are probably looking to shed salary, so Middleton may be on the trading block. If so, the Cavs can still work on the same proposed trade from earlier this year, just with a few tweaks:
- Cavaliers get: Khris Middleton, #17 Pick in the 2018 NBA Draft
- Bucks get: JR Smith, #8 Pick in the 2018 NBA Draft
The Bucks get a similar player to Middleton in Smith. The only changeup is that it gives them financial wiggle room to help make Milwaukee a premier free agent destination.
While it is unfortunate that the Cavs were unable to snag Brogdon, they still get a bonafide star in Middleton. He is still a stalwart defender, playmaker, and three-point threat. Middleton cemented his status as a star player in the playoffs, really giving the Celtics fits:
Adding Middleton to the team’s roster will also make it a lot easier for James to come back to The Land next year. The King needs plenty of help, and Middleton would be the perfect player to pair him with. His three-point shooting and defense compliment James perfectly and will fill a void the Cavs have been suffering from.
While the Cavs do drop nine spots in the upcoming draft, they still have plenty of options at seventeen. Much like the Nuggets trade, the Cavs can still select Zhaire Smith as a future star. Instead of instantly starting though, Smith will develop behind Middleton, and with time become a premier part of the Cavs’ future.
This trade 100% fits all of the Cavs’ offseason goals, and the prospect of bringing in Middleton and Smith while keeping James is too promising to turn down.
1. Wizards help the Cavaliers inflict some Capital Punishment by bringing in Wall
At this point, it is pretty obvious that the Cavs made a huge mistake trading Kyrie Irving to their in-conference rival. But, they can easily use an asset from the Irving trade to land a guard from an old rival.
Long ago, the Cavs used to have a nasty rivalry with the Washington Wizards, but now they both can help one another. Star guard John Wall seems to have worn out his welcome in the Nation’s capital, and the Wizards may be ready to move on from him. If the Cavs want to, they can easily welcome Wall to the Land by including the Nets pick in a deal:
- Cavaliers get: John Wall, #15 Pick in the 2018 NBA Draft
- Wizards get: George Hill, #8 Pick in the 2018 NBA Draft
For the Wizards, they finally make a decision to break up the combination of John Wall and Bradley Beal and build around Beal. George Hill would be the ideal match to pair with Beal, and the Wizards can also nab Collin Sexton as the team’s point guard of the future.
The Wizards are not getting far with the combo of Beal and Wall and have some serious rebuilding to do. They can begin the process by trading away Wall and picking up Sexton.
The Cavs only have to drop down seven picks in the draft, meaning they can still get one of their guys. At this point in this piece, the main targets in the middle of the first are obviously Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Zhaire Smith, and Kevin Knox. The future is bright for the Cavs, even if they are picking in the middle of the first round.
With the addition of Wall, the Cavs get arguably one of the best point guards in the Eastern Conference besides Irving and Charlotte’s Kemba Walker. Wall is a dynamic superstar that specializes in playmaking and defense. While the Cavs totally crushed the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Playoffs, Wall gave them problems in the first round:
If Wall comes to The Land, he can continue the honored tradition of breaking the Raptors’ hearts come April and May..
Finally, the Cavs would also have their best possible chance of bringing back King James if they get Wall. A big three of James, Wall, and Kevin Love, along with their new rookie and plenty of others in the fold, easily make them the best team in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs would easily accomplish all of their set offseason goals by bringing in Wall and one of the promsing rookies from this year’s draft class.
In the end, the Kyrie Irving trade came full circle after the NBA Draft Lottery. While it was disheartening to not get a top-three pick, the #8 selection in the draft gives the Cavs plenty of options heading into this summer. Whether they pick a player with the selection or trade it, general manager Koby Altman has lots of chances to shift the roster to ultimately remain the best team in the East and a perenial title threat. Stay tuned.