While the majority of their trades and proposals won’t create much an impact, the Cleveland Cavaliers will remain as one of the most active organizations at the NBA trade deadline.
For the past week, all attention continues to gear toward New Orleans Pelicans all-NBA superstar, Anthony Davis, and for good reason. Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics pursuit of the coveted Pelican will remain the headline around the league, even if Davis is still a part of New Orleans come offseason.
Despite the flurry of low-end trades thus far (Thon Maker for Stanley Johnson doesn’t do a whole lot to stir interest), the Cavaliers will be among the teams to alter their future by trading, or attempting to trade, whatever assets they even have left.
On Monday, the Cavaliers finalized a trade between the Portland Trail Blazers in a move that won’t make much of an on-court impact. It helps Cleveland build toward their future goal: draft picks. The Cavaliers traded misused, out-of-place, shooting guard Rodney Hood to Portland. In exchange, Cleveland acquired Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin IV and two future second-round picks.
The only significant reason Cleveland dealt Hood was for the second-round picks, which the Cavaliers could eventually flip for a first-rounder. The Hood trade was as exciting as they come. No matter, the move was predictable on both ends. Portland received a valuable role player, while Cleveland was able to flip him for equal, or greater, value.
As soon as the season started, nearly every organization and every fan of basketball knew the Cavaliers organization would sell. It was a matter of what could they even sell that had fans pondering their next move. All eyes obviously turned to Kevin Love, the all-star forward, as a main target for Cleveland to trade away. Hindered with injuries, the Cavaliers never likely got an offer they liked.
In November, JR Smith took immediate and permanent leave from the Cavaliers to focus on private-training and potential trades to contending teams. Given his less-than-desirable contract, nobody ever took interest. If Smith wants to play again this season, he’ll have to take a buyout from the team. That is something he’s on record saying he wouldn’t do.
Soon after, the Cavaliers managed to trade guard George Hill and forward Sam Dekker, in the same trade, to the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards, respectively. Hill and Dekker were obvious trade candidates. The Cavaliers got what they came for again: draft picks.
Despite the Hill and Dekker deal, the Cavaliers officially kicked off their trade party by trading guard Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz in exchange for guard Alec Burks and two future second-round picks.
Between the three trades thus far, the Cavaliers netted journeymen role-players (Matthew Dellavedova, Stauskas, Burks and Baldwin), but more importantly, they’ve secured seven total draft selections. For Cleveland, the names of both Stauskas and Baldwin will soon be forgotten. I’ll get more into this shortly.
Officially, the trade deadline will end Thursday, Feb. 7 at 3:00 p.m.
According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, the Cavaliers reached an early, tentative agreement with the Houston Rockets. The Cavaliers will receive Brandon Knight and a first-round pick in exchange for Burks.
In a twist of events, the Cavaliers facilitated a three-team trade between them, Houston and the Sacramento Kings. The Kings received Burks and a second-round pick from Cleveland, the Rockets received guard Iman Shumpert from Sacramento. The Cavaliers received Knight, forward-center Marquese Chriss and a protected first-round pick from Houston. The trade was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Before Stauskas and Baldwin IV could suit up for Cleveland, they were both dealt to Houston as part of the three-team deal. Both players had been acquired in the Hood deal with Portland. Let’s take a brief moment to thank both Stauskas and Baldwin IV for their contributions. It was short, but sweet.
In general, the Cavaliers were willing to take on bad contracts (i.e. Knight) in exchange for draft picks. As of now, Knight is expected to earn $15.6 million during the 2019-20 season. His contract will expire after that.
While the Cavaliers could keep Knight, it’s likely they’ll buy him out, allowing him to sign with any contender that might need an extra role-player. The only reason this trade made sense for Cleveland is the first-round pick Houston sent their way. The Cavaliers don’t have much use for Knight or Chriss, despite their active roster.
Chriss will become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. In addition, the Cavaliers will likely let him walk. To be blunt, Knight and Chriss won’t do much, if anything, in Cleveland.
According to Sam Amico, the Cavaliers would draft 21st overall, given Houston’s current record. The pick would likely get worse, as the Rockets are returning to normal form with scoring onslaught superstar James Harden continues to show.
By trade deadline end, the Cavaliers will have turned Korver, Hill, Dekker, Hood and Burks into eight selections; six second-round picks and two first-rounders. While the Cavaliers will draft atop the lottery with their own first-round pick, they’ll receive the Rockets 2019 first-rounder as well. The pick is lottery-protected, but the Rockets will make the postseason, where the pick will officially go to Cleveland.
Since their veterans weren’t highly sought after, the Cavs trades thus far aren’t appealing from an outside perspective. After the three-team trade with the Kings and Rockets, the Cavaliers front office has done the exact job they promised. They’ve traded their veterans away in exchange for a bad contract and draft assets.
As mentioned before, Knight will likely get cut or bought out from Cleveland. In addition, Chriss served as a throwaway asset from Houston. All the Cavs front office cared about was the first-round selection.
The majority of their contracts expire in the 2020 offseason, so the Cavs are taking undesirable, short-term contracts to get draft picks before the 2020-2021 season starts. By this time, the Cavaliers will have a ton of cap space to pursue quality free agents.
As for the other players, the Cavs aren’t likely to deal any of their more expensive contracts (Love, Tristan Thompson, etc…), but if an offer came their way that met all their desired criteria, the front office could pull the trigger. I wouldn’t bet on it though. The trade last night will likely be the last move Cleveland makes before the deadline.
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