In the Cleveland Cavaliers’ latest outing they squared off with their rivals the Golden State Warriors at home and lost a mostly-tightly contested match to the tune of 118-108. While this possible repeat of an NBA Finals preview was a lot closer compared to their outing on Christmas Day, the Warriors still look a class above the Cavs and this showed down the stretch when Kevin Durant ripped out Wine and Gold Nation’s hearts.
Immediately after the game, New York Times NBA Insider Marc Stein tweeted this out that got NBA fans buzzing:
One trusted source pulled me aside at the @nbagleague Showcase last week in suburban Toronto and insisted that the Cavs will "definitely" swing at least one deal before the Feb. 8 trade deadline. But is there really one deal out there that closes this gap?
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 16, 2018
While it is pretty obvious the Cavs will be heavy hitters on the market when the trade deadline rolls around, like they were when they acquired JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Timofey Mozgov, Channing Frye, and Kyle Korver the last three seasons, the Cavs really need to swing for the fences to better help them gain footing when they hopefully square off against the Dubs yet again this summer.
In order to make this happen, it may be finally time for the Cavs to say goodbye to the coveted 2018 Nets first-round draft pick. While there is a very real fear that LeBron James may leave the team this upcoming offseason, by going to the Houston Rockets and never the Los Angeles Lakers, the Cavs will have to trade away their only true future asset in order to convince James to stay with the team for the remainder of his career.
With the Nets pick now likely on the table, the Cavs better try and move it quickly. Heading into the season the Nets were not expected to be as solid as they are now and the draft pick has fluctuated to as high as sixth overall and all the way to tenth overall. This is because of Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson squeezing the absolute most out of his roster, and Brooklyn obtaining former Ohio State Buckeye D’Angelo Russell in the offseason. While Russell has been sidelined with injury for a while, his return is almost inevitable and this will impact the standing of the Nets’ pick the Cavs own and need to sell high while they still have the chance.
While the Cavs will try to land a star player, something that they will consider now that the Nets pick is in play, the team and Cavs fans should 100% give up on the delusion of landing Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins. While it would be awesome to land a player of either Cousins’ or George’s talents, it would dismantle an already fragile Cavs locker room and ruin an offense that is still trying to work back in Isaiah Thomas. Instead, they should go after younger talent to help build off of in the event King James leaves next summer, move on from some of their bad contracts, and still acquire talent that will benefit them in their quest to win a second title in three seasons.
Here are the top ten trades that involve the 2018 Nets pick and fits the bill for what exactly the Cavs are looking for in terms of talent:
10. Cavs send Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, 2018 Nets draft pick for Nerlens Noel, Wesley Matthews, and Yogi Ferrell
A team that has been a thorn in the Cavs’ side when it comes to the Nets pick are the Dallas Mavericks, a team that has a high chance of picking in the top three in the upcoming NBA Draft. For Dallas, the opportunity to have two top ten picks to help kick-start their rebuild after the Dirk Nowitzki years come to a close would be massive for a team that has their point guard of the future in Dennis Smith Jr. They also will have extra salary cap since Channing Frye’s contract is expiring and they also get the benefit of having Iman Shumpert to mentor their young wings.
It has been mentioned before that there is a good chance the Cavs could land Noel and Matthews from the Mavericks, with the Nets pick now in play the Mavericks will also have to include Ferrell with the deal as well to help add a few pieces that would be a huge addition to their lineup. With Noel, the Cavs would finally have a proper rim protector, something they have not had since Timofey Mozgov came back down to earth and is a player that reportedly LeBron James wants to team up with:
I know you're thinking about Cowboys or the fight right now, but my Noel fear is the package deal with LBJ next summer. Big promises made.
— Jeff Skin Wade (@SkinWade) August 27, 2017
Noel has had an up and down career his first few seasons into the Association and he can finally find a proper home in The Land alongside the King. To help the sell Cavs fans more on the idea of Noel defending the rim here are some defensive highlights while with the Mavs:
With Matthews, the Cavs also get some help on perimeter defense as well, something they have been struggling with throughout the 2017-18 regular season. Matthews also provides great perimeter scoring which would be great after JR Smith fell off a cliff in terms of well, everything. Finally, they also get a solid, reliable young guard to back up Isaiah Thomas and do not have to keep on waiting for Derrick Rose to be healthy again or an aging veteran like Jose Calderon.
9. Cavs send Iman Shumpert, Ante Zizic, 2018 Nets pick for Rodney Hood, Joe Johnson
While this trade is not the sexiest, it makes perfect sense for both the Cavs and the Jazz. For the Jazz, after they lost Gordon Hayward last offseason to the Boston Celtics, they lucked out by having two franchise cornerstones in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert and currently they have a glut of perimeter scorers like Hood and Johnson so they can lose two key members of their team to have a chance to land Marvin Bagley, Luka Doncic, or Trae Young.
Hood is having a career year with the Jazz this season, with averages of 16.4 points, 1.7 assists, and 2.7 rebounds. He also is a reliable three-point shooter which can be huge for the Cavs who have been anemic at times when shooting from the perimeter. He would be a young piece for the Cavs to build towards the future within the event James does leave.
The Cavs would also land Joe Johnson, who has been notorious for his clutch playoff scoring and would be a huge addition to the Cavs either as a starter or off the bench. While he is only averaging 7.3 points this season, he easily morphs into “Joe Jesus” when it matters most for his team like he did when he played for the Nets:
But if this trade is not able to move the needle for the Cavs, there is another possible trade that the Cavs could pull off that involves the Jazz.
8. Cavs send Tristan Thompson, 2018 Nets pick to Chicago, 2018 Cavs first-round pick to Utah, Bulls sends Nikola Mirotic to Utah, Jazz send Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood to Cleveland
The last few weeks it has been reported that there is a mutual interest for the Chicago Bulls to send forward Nikola Mirotic to the Utah Jazz for a multitude of reasons. For the Bulls, Mirotic had his face bashed in by teammate Bobby Portis during practice and while the two players seem to coexist at this moment, Mirotic wants to move on from the Windy City and play for Jazz head coach Quinn Snyder. For the Jazz, they would love to pair the perfect player alongside star enter Rudy Gobert in Mirotic, who is a prototypical stretch-four.
The problem is for both sides is the fact that the Jazz lack assets that would interest the Bulls for Mirotic and the Jazz would also have a logjam of players in the frontcourt in the even they do acquire him. But here come the Cavs who can be the third team to help the proposed Mirotic to Utah trade happen by sending Tristan Thompson and the Nets pick to Chicago and their own first rounder to Utah to acquire Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood from the Jazz.
The Bulls would be able to break up the drama between Mirotic and Portis and also get a young center in Thompson that is an easy lob recipient from rising guard Kris Dunn and for the Jazz they get the player that they have wanted for a while in Mirotic. Both teams also get draft picks from Cleveland that can help they keep building towards becoming contenders in their perspective conferences.
From the last trade, Cavs fans now know what Hood can bring to the table to the Cavs as a shooting guard of both now and the future, but with Favors they get a true center to pair alongside Kevin Love. This season alone Favors is averaging 12.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, and a solid 1.0 block per game, all while playing in the starting unit and off the bench for the Jazz. He would bring a ton of defensive grit and rim protection for the Cavs and would give a proper compliment to Kevin Love, something they never had with Tristan Thompson. Speaking of Thompson, the Cavs are also able to shed his horrendous contract and keep Favors on an easier to manage deal.
7. Cavs send JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, 2018 Nets pick for Evan Fournier and Jonathan Simmons
Like the Tristan Thompson contract, they are also in a bind due to the contracts of both JR Smith and Iman Shumpert. To double down on the strain both Smith and Shumpert bring to the team is the fact that both are huge detriments to the team whenever they touch the floor. To get rid of both of either of their contracts they would have to attach young players like Cedi Osman to sweeten the deal. But, Osman is a player that the Cavs should keep (and give more minutes to) and instead send both Shumpert and Smith, along with the Nets pick, to the Orlando Magic for Evan Fournier and Jonathan Simmons.
While the Cavs are hellbent on moving the Nets pick for a star player, the chance to rid both Shumpert and Smith’s contracts are almost too tantalizing to pass up. Besides, while both Simmons and Fournier are not the flashiest of gets for the Wine and Golders, they both would be huge key pieces that can help the Cavs reach the NBA Finals and also help them square up nicely with the Warriors or even the Houston Rockets.
The biggest prize in this trade for the Cavs would be swingman Jonathan Simmons, who was recruited by LeBron James at one point to join the Cavs last offseason. He instead signed with the Magic and is now playing for one of the worst teams in the league and he would be a lot happier playing for an NBA Championship with the best team in the Eastern Conference. Mostly a defensive specialist, Simmons can be vital in locking down players like James Harden or Steph Curry and help lighten the defensive load on both LeBron James and Jae Crowder. Besides being a defensive freak, he can also score and a variety of ways and even torched the Cavs earlier on this season:
With Fournier, the Cavs would get a perfect complimentary three-point specialist that can also slash and attack the basket. The shooting guard spot has been a pit for the Cavs this season on the offensive side of the ball and adding Fournier would be an instant upgrade to any production Smith has brought to the table. Whether it is starting or off the bench, Fournier would be huge for the Cavs for now and the foreseeable future.
6. Cavs send JR Smith, Ante Zizic, 2018 Nets pick for Kent Bazemore, John Collins
Another team, along with the Bulls, Magic, and Mavericks that is competing for a top draft pick are the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have come a long way from the team that was considered the darling of the Eastern Conference and are entering a full rebuild after they have seen Al Horford, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver (the Big Three of that vaunted Hawks team) all head on to greener pastures. They can accelerate the rebuilding process by landing the Nets pick by letting go of another member of that 2014-15 Hawks team in Bazemore and promising forward John Collins.
For here and now, Bazemore is the perfect player to plug into the Cavs lineup since he provides excellent perimeter defense and is a reliable three-point shooter, shooting nearly 40% from beyond the arc. He would be the perfect compliment alongside Isaiah Thomas and would easily help improve the Cavs porous perimeter defense.
While Bazemore is not worth the Nets pick alone, adding Collins to the mix would definitely spark the Cavs’ interest. Coming out of Wake Forest, Collins shows a lot of potential to be a premier NBA big man in the future. He plays with a ton of energy and is an excellent rebounder on both ends of the floor. He still needs to work on his knack for fouling but if he landed in Cleveland he would be a cornerstone for the future for the team.
5. Cavs send Iman Shumpert, 2018 Nets pick for Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson
Heading into the 2017-18 NBA regular season, I had the Detroit Pistons as a darkhorse team for the Eastern Conference playoffs all because they were able to land guard Avery Bradley in a trade with the Celtics. Well, the Pistons are just barely on the edge of being the eighth seed and Pistons fans are clamoring for the team to trade away Bradley and play rookie Luke Kennard instead.
Well, this is news to me since Bradley is one of, if not the best perimeter defenders in the NBA and if the Pistons do not want him then the Cavs definitely will. This would be awesome for Cavs players Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder who get to reunite with Bradley after playing together with the Celtics and compete for an NBA Championship and Bradley can return to what he did in Boston by covering for Isaiah Thomas’s horrendous defense. His role would be easily set with the Cavs as he would be a huge addition to the Cavs, in both terms of scoring and defense and would easily be able to replicate moments like this with IT:
Besides acquiring Bradley, the Cavs can also get another player that is no longer wanted by fans in Stanley Johnson. Coming out of Arizona, Johnson drew comparisons to both Ron Artest and Kawhi Leonard due to his knack for defense and a developing offensive game. In two seasons with the Pistons, Johnson has been in head coach Stan Van Gundy’s doghouse for whatever reason and cannot get consistent minutes with the team. Johnson could get a fresh start with the Cavs and could carve out consistent minutes as LeBron James’ main backup. In time he could also be a cornerstone for the Cavaliers and can prove it from the moment he joins the team.
4. Cavs send Tristan Thompson, Channing Frye, 2018 Nets draft pick for Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow
Since the end of the Big Three era of Miami Heat basketball, the Heat have become a very different team who are strapped for cash after paying fat contracts for players like Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk. While they are on pace with the Cavs right now in terms of record, the thing the Cavs have over the Heat is they actually have star power. The Heat have a bunch of okay at best players and the furthest the roster can ever go is the second round, and that is because of how great a coach Erik Spoelstra is.
Maybe it is time for Miami to hit the reset button by trading for the 2018 Brooklyn pick by sending their best asset, Hassan Whiteside, to the Cavaliers. They can build for the future with the Nets pick, and shed some salary along the way.
With Whiteside, the Cavs get another player like Isaiah Thomas who brings a lot of grit, just this time it will be on the defensive side of the ball. Whiteside would be able to easily integrate into the Cavs on offense as well as he can get super easy looks from Thomas, James, and his good friend and former teammate Dwyane Wade.
Another player that the Cavs can pull in a trade for Whiteside because of the 2018 Nets pick is defensive swingman Justise Winslow. A lot like Johnson, Winslow showed a ton of potential coming out of college because of his defensive ability but he just never could bring it all together on offense while with the Heat. In Cleveland, there is a ton of less pressure put on Winslow to score right away and he can immediately provide defense and still work towards becoming a part of the Cavs future as his offensive game continues to develop.
3. Cavs send Tristan Thompson, Channing Frye, Cedi Osman, 2018 Nets draft pick for Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans
Gasol would be a huge acquisition for the Cavs and as I mentioned before, he would be a major compliment to Kevin Love:
“Speaking of Love, the best power forward in the Eastern Conference, if the Cavs were able to land Gasol he would be able to slide Love back to his natural power forward position and his skill set would only be accented by Gasol. The thing is, both Love and Gasol are willing playmakers and the defensive attention that Gasol would demand would give Love much easier three-point opportunities and Love would have a reliable wide receiver in Gasol for his famous touchdown full-court passes.
To give you a better idea of Gasol’s playmaking ability, here are some highlights to feast your eyes on:
With the Nets pick now included in the deal, the Grizzlies will have to include another player to help the Cavs instantly contend in Tyreke Evans. Evans is having a career year with the Grizzlies and is a Sixth Man of the Year candidate with averages of 19.6 points, 4.8 assists, and 5.1 rebounds. Unfortunately for Evans, his talents are being wasted in Memphis who is one of the worst teams in the league and he could be a major component to help carry the Cavs as either a startr or a key member off of the bench.
2. Cavs send Tristan Thompson, Channing Frye, Cedi Osman, 2017 Nets draft pick for DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams
“The biggest thing Jordan brings to the table is defense and rebounding, something that has him in the conversation every year for one of the top defensive players alone. As mentioned before, the Cavs have struggled mightily with Kevin Love defending the rim as the team’s primary center and the addition of Jordan would almost instantly get rid of that detriment to an otherwise solid Cavs defense. Adding Jordan would add an enforcer to their paint defense, as Jordan has a career average of nearly two blocks per game. Just picture how awesome it would be to see the block party Dwyane Wade, one of the best blocking guards in NBA history alongside Jordan roaming the interior.”
When it comes to Jordan, he seems to be the most likely player to join the Cavaliers at the trade deadline and according to Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer, it all hinged on the Cavs being willing to part with the Nets pick. Well, now the Nets pick is probably on the table and Cavs fans should probably be ready to don their fresh new #6 jerseys but the Cavs should only agree to the trade if the Clippers include guard Lou Williams.
With Williams, the Cavs would get a huge injection of offense as a key member of their bench rotation. In the month of January alone he is avveraging 31.6 points and went off for an astounding 50 points against the Golden State Warriors and their #1 defense:
Williams would be the only player that would force the Cavs to add the Nets pick to the Jordan trade and if the Clippers want to rebuild it would make total sense for them to pull the trigger. They could land two top picks and build alongside the coach’s son, as it appears Blake Griffin is on the trading block too.
1. Cavs send Tristan Thompson, 2018 Nets draft pick, 2018 Cavs first round draft pick for Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon
The final, and top trade that the Cavs could make that involves the coveted 2018 Nets draft pick is trying to land Milwaukee Bucks superstar Khris Middleton. Trading for Middleton is a trade I explored before and it seemed like a long shot without the Nets pick being involved. But with the Nets pick now in the fold, Middleton has a good chance of joining the Cavs and this is what he would bring to the squad:
“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, Isaiah Thomas, 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.
On defense, the Cavs would be able to replicate something very similar to what Isaiah Thomas had last year with the Boston Celtics when he started in the backcourt alongside Avery Bradley. You see, Thomas had a pretty neutral defensive rating, despite the fact that he is a notorious defensive liability because Bradley was constantly covering for him in the event Thomas’s man blew past him. Well, the Cavs can now have the same situation by pairing Thomas (when healthy) alongside Middleton and will also have a reliable option to lock down players like Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, and even Kevin Durant in the event the Cavs do see the Dubs or the Rockets in the NBA Finals.”
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. With Brogdon, they could have their point guard of the future in the event Isaiah Thomas moves on from the team following this season and 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. He showcased all of this against the Pistons this year and continues to prove his worth every game this season:
The combination of Middleton and Brogdon is the perfect mix of youth and talent that can help the Cavs win now and continue to build for the future as well.
With less than a month to go until the NBA trade deadline, the Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to be major players especially if they include their coveted 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round draft pick. The three biggest targets for the Cavs at this deadline should be to land talent to help them win now, talent to help them build for the future, and try and shed player salary like Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, or Iman Shumpert along the way. The ten trades discussed above are the best possible opportunites to the Cavs and can help them along the way to win their second title in three seasons and can help soften the blow of losing the Nets pick, too.