(photo cred what-if.com)
A couple nights ago, rising hoops journalist Kevin O’Connor tweeted about the Cavs future. To summarize, he thinks that the Cavs do have some weapons to rebuild on the fly. Check his tweet below:
But are there really any sensible trades out there? With today’s NBA being like the Wild West, anything is possible. I get it. Still, what can the Cavs truly do? Let’s go over some options.
1. Shop George Hill and his 19 million dollar expiring contract
With a team option for the 2019-2020 season, George Hill is should actually be gaining value around the league. Teams with bloated contracts, like Washington, Portland, Charlotte and others, should be giving Cleveland a call. Even when we look at these rosters and salaries, things just don’t match up from a player-value perspective.
Let’s use Washington as an example. Between only 5 players, they currently have 111 million dollars on the books for 2019-2020. Ew. Would they be willing to depart with Otto Porter for some future cap relief? Here’s what it would look like.
Hill’s expiring plus Osman’s addition would see that gross 111 million dollar cap figure shrink to around 89 (before other picks, FAs are counted, of course.) The Wizards could start a lineup next year of Gortat, Morris, Oubre, Beal and Wall, with Hill, Osman and Satoransky off the bench. Still, this is most likely not enough.
Would the Wizards do this trade if a pick swap was involved? The Cavs could send over the 8th pick for the Wizard’s 15th. The addition of Porter would be well worth it for the Cavs. Porter is a switchable defensive wing who nailed 44% of his three last year. Wizards fans can draft Mikal or Miles Bridges at the 8 spot, two players with ceilings as high as Porters and with salaries that will be much cheaper. Regardless, teams will have to place a high value on Hill’s expiring contract for any of this to work.
Other hypothetical trade:
*Cleveland gets Kemba, Cody Zeller and the 11th pick, Charlotte gets Hill, flotsam and the 8th pick.
2. Target a team who is looking for a change
Cough *Toronto* Cough.
This trade grew on me after I let it stew for a few minutes. BleacherReport recently claimed that no one is untouchable on the Raptors roster. It looks like Masai Ujiri is looking to switch things up a bit and maneuver what we now have labeled the “quick rebuild.” I present to you: The Lowry Trade
I know that Lowry has been knocked before for his playoff performances however, the guy balled this postseason (including against the Cavs.) Check out his playoff stats from this year!
A point guard who is getting more efficient as he ages, Lowry is still a defensive bulldog too. If the Cavs can land him and Delon Wright, there roster could be turned around quickly. Oh, and here’s the secret about Delon Wright, the guy played 69% of his minutes at shooting guard (sshhh, don’t tell JR, it will be our secret.) Given how the Cavs were within striking distance for 2 out of the 4 Finals games, this upgrade may be enough to even out the odds.
Without picks, this trade will not get done, however.
So, Cleveland throws in the #8 pick. Toronto fans will be upset if this happens, and I understand. But do yourself a favor and check out your future salary cap situation. The Raptors are over the cap for the next two years; two prime Derozan seasons in which they will not be able to add a missing piece to the roster.
Doesn’t look great, does it. As much as I like The Drakes, something has to change up in Toronto. By nabbing the 8th pick, Toronto can trot out a future lineup of Young/Sexton, Derozan, OG, Ibaka and Jonas. Bringing Hill off of the bench allows them to let Van Vleet walk; someone who will get a nice offer sheet this summer. A bench of Hill, Korver, Miles, Poeltl and Siakam is nothing to mess with. Clearing cap space to add new Derozan help, plus bringing in a top-8 pick may be exactly what the Raptors need.
3. The Love trade we all want to happen
Cleveland gets: CJ, Aminu and Collins
Portland gets: Love and Thompson
Just do it, already, Neil Olshey.
Portland has been in and out of trade rumors, especially since their embarassing playoff performance. Similar to the situation in Toronto, it is time to try and new recipe. Portland could move off of their backcourt redundancy and pair Dame with Love (who is from Oregon.) Thompson looks like a man reborn and adding him to the roster would allow Portland to let Nurkic walk. A lineup of Dame, Turner, Love and Thompson could be something to work with. They could use their 24th pick to draft someone like Khyri Thomas to try and plug that shooting guard gap.
Cleveland gets CJ McCollum; someone who is a perfect fit for Lebron due to his ability to both create and play off of the ball. Collins is someone that management in Portland is super high on. He could be a stretch 5 with good defensive potential as well. Aminu is a hidden gem here, however. The defensively versatile combo forward could switch onto both Durant, Thompson or Curry during the Finals. Plus, he shot a career best 36.9% from deep this year on 5 attempts per game. Aminu can slide in nicely to Love’s role as a corner three spacer (something we saw repeatedly in the playoffs.) In fact, Aminu took nearly the same percentage of corner 3s as Love (28% compared to Love’s 30%). Yet, Aminu nailed 47% of them while Love hit only 37%. Plus, just look at Aminu’s 2018 playoff numbers. It is a small sample size but, it is indicative of the exact type of player who could thrive next to LeBron.
4. Dangle Love and the Pick
Get ready for some pushback, Espo.
That was me talking to myself, preparing for some crazy reviews. This trade seems implausible because of the high number of moving salaries but, I like it.
For Cleveland, this is a no brainer. Although Millsap had an injury plagued year, his deal has a team option after this year. So, Cleveland gets a shot at a former 4x All-Star and all-Defensive team player, a guy who can defend 1-4 on switches. Plus, they can shed his 30 million salary after next year. They also pick up a floor spacer in Murray, someone who can create offense or play off the ball. I love Lyles for them as well. He played 30% of his minutes at center this year and hit 38% of his threes on 3 attempts per game. A small lineup of Lyles, Millsap, Lebron, Korver and Murray is a dream shooting scenario for the King.
Denver may need a pick swap to be persuaded. Cleveland could give them the 8th while Denver sends back the 14th. Denver can move off of Millsap and hope for another free agent signing next offseason. Do we like the odds that Denver adds an All-Star free agent for the second time in three years? Me neither. They can trade for Love now instead of praying in Free Agency. They get 19 million in expiring from George Hill and a good prospect in Osman. Plus, Hill can man the point guard spot for a year as they develop whichever PG they select with the 8th pick (Young, Sexton.) A lineup of Jokic, Love, Harris, Chandler and Young/Sexton going forward is a playoff contender. If Denver really needs to be convinced, let them keep their pick as well. A lineup of Jokic, Love, Harris, Mikal Bridges and SGA…now that is something to fall in love with.
It’s the offseason now, so we all like to go crazy with trade scenarios. And why not, right? Do I think any of these are likely, probably not. But the NBA gets wilder every offseason. These trades might not go down, but expect some major names like Millsap, Murray, Lowry, Derozan, CJ and others to be linked to the Cavs.
And let me know what you think! @mattesposito_