It is late August, training camp is still over a month away, and basketball news has been hard to come by. So why not mess around with the NBA trade machine? I put together two trades, neither of which could be seen as groundbreaking, but which would hopefully put the Cavaliers in better position to win a championship. I particularly see the second one as a win for both sides. You can use the comments to tell me what you think or come up with your own trades.
The first trade I came up evolved from an idea put forward on the Portland Trail Blazers blog Blazer's Edge. Amazingly, there was a fan post wondering if it would be wise for them to trade Damian Lillard, the 29 year old rookie scorer out of Weber State, for none other than Kyrie Irving, reigning Rookie of the Year, writer, director, actor, fourth quarter phenomenon, and breaker of Team USA ankles. Lillard isn't 29? Whatever. To the horror of people who love sanity and rational thinking, many Blazer's fans actually wanted to keep Lillard. Again, whatever.
But there is a player in Portland that would fit in quite nicely with the Cleveland Cavaliers. LaMarcus Aldridge. Would you trade Anderson Varejao and two first round picks for LaMarcus Aldridge? I would, provided it was the Sacramento and Heat/Lakers pick. I would probably even do it if it was our first round pick next year. Remember, if we were adding Aldridge, our record would probably improve a bit. Portland finds itself in the classic no-mans land where they either need Lillard to be an outstanding player almost immediately, or major improvement from Nicolas Batum if they want to be any better than the 7th or 8th seed out west. In reality, they should probably be trying to find assets to help them build around Lillard, Batum, and Meyers Leonard. Aldridge is expensive, and if they can find ways to keep adding young talent, they might have a better chance at getting into the upper echelon out west.
The major problems with the trade involve the fact that Portland has a pretty great cap situation, and can definitely afford Aldridge. Given he has a PER of almost 23, he is probably worth the money he makes. He is their best player, and he is only 27 years old. Year 3 of Lillard and Leonard will come in what will probably be Aldridge's last year before a bit of a decline starts to set in. The Cavaliers would probably have to find a way to sweeten the deal a bit more, and I am not sure we have anything they would want. Still, heading into the next offseason with a ton of cap space, a first round pick, Irving, Aldridge, Waiters, Thompson, and Zeller would be pretty awesome. Only thing missing is a small forward, but that is fixable.
I looked at the Rockets roster, and even though they have 19 players under contract, Jeremy Lamb is the only one I really want. Best not explore that one.
Denver is a team that I love on paper. I really think they are the third best team out West, and will give either the Lakers or Thunder a really great series. But they could get even better, and maybe find a way to get a championship if they got a little creative. We still don't have Alonzo Gee under contract and desperately need a starting caliber Small Forward. With Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler making a combined $30 million next season, plus Quincy Miller, Denver is loaded at that position. Power Forward is a bit weaker for them with Kenneth Faried and not much else. So lets send them Anderson Varejao for Wilson Chandler and Quincy Miller. Chandler has allegedly been working really hard all summer and wants to be seen as a star in the league. I would be fine if he ended up with a PER around 15-16 and played solid defense. Chandler looked terrible when he got back from China at the end of the year, which gives me some pause, but it was a small sample size and he came back mid-season.
The Cavaliers would then have even more cap room next summer, the potential of Quincy Miller, a potential long term solution at SF that doesn't break the bank in Chandler, and a team that will probably be a little bit worse next season without Varejao, which would mean a better draft pick. Plus, it would mean more minutes for Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson. I really like a team with Irving, Dion Waiters, Wilson Chandler, Tristan Thompson, and Tyler Zeller going forward, with plenty of money and draft picks to upgrade the roster. The Nuggets wouldn't break the bank, and could move forward with Ty Lawson, Gallinari, Iguodala, Varejao, McGee, and Faried and Koufos off the bench. Its a deep, big team that will be well coached by George Karl.
Which roster puts the Cavaliers in better position to win an NBA championship? Irving, Waiters, Wilson, Thompson, Zeller, Miles, Miller? Or Irving, Waiters, Gee, Thompson, Varejao, Zeller, Miles? I like the first one.