So.. this happened.
Did anyone find Dan Gilbert and his entourage were being too emphatic? I realize winning the number one pick is worth celebrating, I get it. But when your team has been in the lottery and got four top-5 picks in the last three years, that means your team sucked.
"YEAHHHH YEAHHH ATTA BOY NICKY!"
In my opinion, their celebration was too rowdy. The NBA Lottery is like a gift for sucking. It's like letting a dude who couldn't make the varsity team be a water boy. "Hey, you can't play, but I'll let you be on the team"
Okay, I'm done ranting about Dan Gilbert and his entourage now.
Let's talk about what the Cavaliers can do with their pick(s). Cleveland has the 1st, 19th, 31st and 33rd picks in this draft. They have four picks in one of the worst drafts in modern era. The Cavaliers are a very young team. Nick Gilbert thinks the Cavs can make the playoffs, apparently. This team cannot make the playoffs with the talent that they have right now. Can they draft a player who will make them a playoff team? Probably not. A young team like this need a veteran that can complement young stars in Irving and Waiters. Brian Winhorst reported that the Cavs could trade their 1st pick:
WHATT??? TRADE THE 1ST OVERALL PICK?
Yes. Last time a team traded their 1st overall pick was back in 1993-94 season, when the Magic traded Chris Webber to the Warriors for Penny Hardaway. But remember, this is a bad draft. There is no question the Cavaliers are going to listen to offers for this pick.
So let's look at what they can do with their pick(s):
1. Just draft Nerlens Noel with the 1st pick
There's a general consensus among experts that Noel will be the number one pick. He is a top-level athlete who is a tremendous shot-blocker and shot changer. Every successful NBA team has good rebounders. He's a limited offensive threat who lacks post game and has a slim build. But we all know that the upcoming NBA draft is weak, teams are not expecting to draft superstars.
Noel's excellent athleticism and ability to block shots are intriguing. He protects the rim and very active. He definitely has to bulk up in order to attain a strong base in the post. When it comes to offense, Noel is as raw as you can get. He doesn't have a face-up game or back-to-the-basket game, but he is active around the rim. Majority of his points come from put-backs. In a weak draft like this, Noel is probably the safest bet despite his ACL injury.
1a. Draft Noel and suck again next year
The dirty secret about drafting Noel is that whoever drafts him will not improve immediately. Noel weighs 206lbs and he is recovering from a torn ACL injury that he suffered back in February. Wait a second, he weighs 206 pounds? Yes, he weighs 20 pounds heavier than me, I'm 6 feet tall and he's 6'11''.
Noel will be cleared to do basketball activities in January, if he's lucky, and he obviously needs to address his weight problem before becoming a major part of an NBA team. And, this is exactly why the Cavs need to take Noel. Because Noel won't help the Cavaliers immediately, and will let the Cavs tank or suck again next year. 2014 NBA Draft is loaded with talents, featuring Wiggins, Randle, Harrison brothers and Gordon. Realistically, this team won't be that good next year. This isn't a team that can create a buzz in the playoffs like the Warriors did this year. So, grab Noel, tank next year, get a good draft pick, then take a player who screams potential in the 2014 NBA Draft.
1b. Draft Noel and Sign Josh Smith
Can you imagine a starting rotation of Irving, Waiters, Smith, Thompson and Noel running the floor? That would be a frightening up-tempo team.
Josh Smith is a beast around the rim, but takes a lot of jump shots from the perimeter. Sometimes, he comes a ball-stopper too, he sometimes thinks he's Carmelo Anthony or something. Although, Smith's ability to run the floor and play defense can be very helpful for the Cavs, I don't think Cleveland should go for him.
Smith will likely demand a four-year deal of $14-16 million per year. That is too much money for a guy who is not a franchise changer. And, when the contract is signed, he becomes a untradeable guy right away, no one will trade for him.
1c. Draft Noel and Sign Andre Igoudala
Igoudala found himself in Denver. His playmaking ability and defensive intensity were a pefrect fit in the Nuggets' high-octane system. Iggy is one of only five players to average at least 12points, five rebounds and five assists this season; the other four were Rondo, Westbrook and LeBron. He is essentially a point forward.
I love Igoudala's defensive ability he'd bring to the Cavs. But Irving runs the show in Cleveland. Waiters is the 2nd ball handler to Irving. I'm not sure if Iggy can be a complementary player along two dominant ball handlers. He's not a good spot up shooter.
Oh, and he shot 57% from the free throw line. Not from the field, from the free throw line.
Granger's injury limited him to only five games this season. Danny Granger has been very productive in the NBA, averaging 18.2 points, 5.2 rebounds during his first seven seasons. He could provide the Cavaliers with extra scoring and shooting from the wing. A healthy Granger would definitely be an upgrade over Alonzo Gee.
Granger has one year left on his contract at $14 million. Remember, the Cavs have about $20 million in cap room. So they don't have to return a big contract to the Pacers to get Granger.
The Pacers had a good season without Granger. The emergence of Lance Stephenson could happen because of Granger's injury. Granger became a trade commodity all of a sudden. If the Pacers get rid of Granger's contract, they will be able to re-sign David West. If they have to pick one between West and Granger, they'll choose West. Cleveland could use the 19th and 33rd picks to persuade the Pacers to trade their former star.
If the Cavs make the playoffs, Granger can be the guy who provides floor spacing as an offensive threat. If they don't make the playoffs, Granger is a good enough scorer that he can possibly be flipped to a contender before the trade deadline.
Cleveland really wouldn’t have much to lose in this scenario. The 19th pick in a draft lacking any apparent difference makers most likely wouldn’t help the Cavaliers enough to make a big difference, so why not wager it on a proven veteran that could be had for a marginal risk. The move would make a lot of sense for both Cleveland and the Pacers, and both sides should consider making the trade a reality.
If Cleveland is really serious about bringing LeBron back to Ohio, the Cavaliers need to start crafting their roster next year. A big part of the process will involve cutting salaries to make cap room for the summer of 2014. If LeBron comes back, Cleveland will have to be adding veterans to the rotation while young players are on their rookie contracts. And, it is likely that Varejao won't be on the team for financial issues.
The young core of Irving, Waiters, Thompson and Zeller has shown tremendous potential last year. With the addition of Noel, this core becomes more promising. Having said that, Luol Deng is a perfect fit with this core. A defensive wing who can give you 15 - 19 point a night. Also, if Deng decides to stay after this year for less money, he could be play in a small, quick starting lineup with LeBron.
1f. Draft Noel and Trade nos. 19, 31, and 33 for Paul Pierce
Pierce is in the last year of his current contract. Any expiring contracts are good.
I really believe Paul Pierce still has value. Pierce would give Mike Brown a respected veteran voice and provide quality scoring from the wing. If Dan Gilbert wants to be in the discussion of acquiring King James, the Cavaliers will need to make the playoffs next year -- show LeBron this team has good supporting casts. This Cavs team with Pierce has a legitimate chance of making the playoffs.
When the season is over, there is still cap space to bring in one of the 2014 free agents.
1g. Draft Noel and Trade nos. 19, 31, and Varejao for Pau Gasol
The 7-footer is entering the final year of his contract. We don't know how healthy Gasol is going to be as he is still recovering from a knee procedure. But, assuming he will be healthy, he is a perfect fit for the Cavaliers. Of all potential deals, I love this move the best. Gasol is a beast in the low post. He can maybe teach a thing or two about post moves to Nerlens Noel who simply doesn't know how to score. Also, Gasol can be a trade chip before the trade deadline if things don't work out for Cleveland.
If the Lakers end up re-signing Dwight, they will have to trade Gasol. And, when they make that trade, it'll have to be a cash dump trade. The Lakers don't have anybody on their roster, and they are a $80 million tax team. This trade will save them nearly $80 million in cash ($20million in salary + Tax). Varejao is a great piece to take back, because he's an effective player when healthy, and he keeps the door opened for LeBron in 2014 as his contract expires after next season.
2. Trade Down
The Cavaliers need a starting-caliber help on the wing, especially shooting. Alonzo Gee has been starting at the 3 spot for the last two years. Come on. They were 23rd in 3-point percentage in the NBA, this must improve in order to provide Irving more space to operate. Otto Porter is an ideal fit in terms of bringing shooting ability and defensive versatility to the table. Porter is projected to to go 3rd in the draft. The problem is, the Wizards love Otto Porter too. He is a perfect fit for Washington too. But they would still love to grab Noel, they can let him grow and improve as a player around veteran players like Nene and Okafor. The Cavaliers need to make this move to draft Porter, especially if they want to sign a free agent and get better next year.
2a. Trade down, Draft Porter and Sign Al Jefferson
Jefferson is not a franchise player, but he's been paid like one. But this time, he won't get as much money. It's a virtual lock that the Jazz won't re-sign Jefferson, given the development of young bigs they have.
Jefferson is a solid defensive rebounder. His low-post game is unorthodox but very effective.
2b. Trade down, Draft Porter and Sign Andrew Bynum
I'm sorry, Cleveland fans for linking your franchise with Andrew Bynum.
But, when healthy, Bynum is a probably the best low-post scorer at his position. Before sitting out the entire season, he was almost assured of a max contract. A very little number of players can stop healthy Bynum in the post. The talent is there, but there's a serious question as to whether he is mentally ready to be a franchise cornerstone.
If the Cavaliers can give him a one-year deal, there will be very minimal risk. Every one-year deal is good.
2c. Trade no.1 pick for no.2 + Moe Harkless
Forward Maurice Harkless became a late season reason for Magic fans to continue watching their team. Harkless averaged impressive numbers post All-Star. Along with his solid numbers, he brings strong on-ball defense.
Cleveland already has two ball dominant perimeter players in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Harkless is a type of players that doesn't need the ball. Majority of his points come from cuts to the basket and offensive put-back opportunities. His growth as a three-point shooter opened up driving lanes for him at the end of the last season. Harkless became a solid, low-usage offensive player who takes high value shots. He couldn't be a better small forward to fill in at the 3 spot for Cleveland.
PS. He turned 20 a month ago.
2d. Trade down, Draft Porter and Sign Peković
The Cavaliers have about $20million in cap room and do not have any fully guaranteed deals yet on the books for 2014-15. They might be in the finest cap situation in the league. Waiters and Thompson are promising, and they still have a star point guard, Kyrie Irving on the rookie deal.
Peković, at 27, has become one of te most effective bigs in the league. He is the most underrated center in the game in my opinion. He's big, strong, can run the floor, finishes in the paint and most importantly, he has good hands. Just look at him. Would you want to bang your body against him and fight for a reboun in the paint?It'll cost about a 4-year, $50 million contract to sign him. That's a very reasonable price for a young productive center.Nikola Peković is a restricted free agent, that means if Minnesota matches any deal offered to Peković, they get to keep him. So, the Cavaliers might not be able to get him. But I still think the Cavs should try to sign him. This is a very important point. Minnesota will most likely match any team's offer. The Cavaliers should force the T-Wolves to match their pricey offer, along the line of $55 million for 4 years. This will limit Minnesota's cap flexibility which will become a crucial problem as far as keeping Kevin Love in town. It's a very good strategic to set up the next move. Acquiring Kevin Love. Read point #3a.
3. Trade the picks + @ for Immediate Success
You cannot win with just young players in this league. You need veterans, and stars that aren't super young to win. The Cavs will have to shop for a star, to pair with Kyrie Irving. Cleveland has so much asset and cap space. They are almost hoping for a James Harden-like trade. There are a few potential trades like that.
The backend of this idea is that if they can get two stars, with one of them being Kyrie on the rookie contract, they will still have a max-slot next year for LeBron. With the potential of LeBron opting out in the summer of 2014, Cleveland will be setting up a run at reacquiring The Chosen One. LeBron wants to win. LeBron's not going to want to play with a bunch of young guys. If Cleveland wants to lure him back, they need a major talent upgrade.
3a. Trade nos. 1, 19, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson for Kevin Love
I don't know who labels people stars, but even [T'wolves owner] Glen Taylor said: I don't think Kevin Love is a star, because he hasn't led us to the playoffs. I mean, it's not like I had much support out there
That's an exact quote from a young star player who plays in Minneapolis. Kevin Love doesn't feel like his team is good enough to compete. Unless, Minnesota somehow becomes a serious contender in two years, my bet is that he leaves Minnesota when he becomes a free agent after 2014-2015 season. Love, when healthy, is a top-10 player in the league. I would not trade him for Noel, 19th pick, Dion Waitors and Tristan Thompson, no way. But if I'm 80% sure he's going to leave? I might think about doing this deal.
For Cleveland's perspective, if I could trade for Love and pair him with Irving to build my franchise, I'd give up more. And, seeing young versions of Uncle Drew and Wes play together would be something to watch:
Pepsi MAX & Kyrie Irving Present: "Uncle Drew: Chapter 2" (via Pepsi)
3b. Trade nos. 1, 19 Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson for LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge is a two-time All-Star entering his prime. The only two players this past season to average at least 20 points and eight rebounds per game were Aldridge and LeBron.
This is very unlikely to happen, not only because Aldridge has two years left on his contract, but also, he's too good. The only scenario where I could see it happening is a Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard-type situation where Aldridge demands a trade.
Trading Aldridge would mean a total blowup by the Trail Blazers. The pof Lillard, Waiters, Batum, Thompson and Noel can be a better starting lineup than any other rebuilding teams.
Waiters showed some flashes post All-Star of being a high-caliber starting combo guard. Thompson has become a legitimate energy guy. But neither is in Aldridge's stratosphere.
This deal probably won't happen in the near future, but I won't be surprised if it happened.
The new regime has taken over the Kings. If the Ranadive front office wants to turn the page from the Maloof years, it begins by moving on from the Cousins-Tyreke Evans years. Both Cousins and Evans are in the early 20s. It might be tough to give up on them, but it's been proven that this team will not go any far without making major changes.
Cousins has enormous talent, but his on and off court attitude caused major issues in Sacramento since he was drafted. It's not impossible that the new ownership will ship him out. If they're going to pull the plug on Cousins, they might as well do it now. They won't get a better offer because he's a perceived troublemaker who is going into the final year of his contract before he hits restricted free agency. Getting a high lottery pick might be the best the Kings can hope for.
If the Cavaliers pull this trade off, you'd be looking at a core of Irving, Cousins and Thompson with a ton of cap space. If Cleveland pulls off option 1e and 3c, you'd be looking at a lineup of Irving, Cousins, Thompson, Deng, and a two guard to be named. Even if the Cavs don't get LeBron James after next season, an Irving-Cousins-Deng-Thompson core is promising, good enough to make some impact in the Eastern Conference.
Demarcus Cousins runs into padding under the basket (via memoismoney)
Cleveland has put themselves into a very good situation. They have a ton of options because of the cap space they managed to acquire. Kyrie Irving is already one of the best players in the league. Even if they don't get LeBron James in the summer of 2014, a bright future is ahead of them.