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Cavaliers NBA Draft 2014 -- Trading the first overall pick: Dumb or smart? Zach Randolph edition

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There have been rumors about the first overall pick and trading it. Time to discuss them one by one.

Joe Robbins

Given that the insanity of the draft season is in full swing, it's time to take a look at the crazy trade rumors that have encompassed the Cavaliers. It's time to discuss whether or not the Cavs should move their pick for a veteran.

Therefore, we're going to start by looking at each of the players that have been suggested by the Internet basketball publishing community far and wide. These articles will not attack, denigrate, or praise the person who came up with the idea, they will just simply discuss why these ideas make a whole lot of sense or little-to-no sense from the Cavaliers' perspective. Mostly, this will involve looking at veteran big men and decipher whether or not their value matches the first overall selection.

The first selection is an easy one to discuss, and it comes from Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Mary has been on the Cavs' beat for years, and is often a strong source of reporting about the intricacies of what's happening within the organization. A couple of people asked her about who the Cavs should look into trading the number one pick for, and she had some ideas. Some of which she may not actually buy into as smart for the Cavaliers, just ideas. One of them was Zach Randolph, whom she mentioned twice in two different articles.

Here's the first one, coming on May 22:

Since the Cavaliers won the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, there has been much speculation about what they'll do with the pick.

Take a great college player, such as Duke's Jabari Parker or Kansas' Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid?

Or will they try to use it in a deal to acquire an established star such as Minnesota's Kevin Love in an effort to lure LeBron James back?


Here are four other players the Cavs could consider targeting if Love breaks their heart. Not saying any of these are likely, for some of the reasons specified and because of their contract situations, but just some suggestions for Plan B.


1a. Memphis' Zach Randolph: A little dicier proposition because Randolph can opt out this summer. But if Grizzlies are trying to save money, Cavs can help.

Okay, so here this idea is presented as simply trading for Randolph. Let's just ignore the fact that he can opt out this summer and discuss the general basis of his skill set for a second. I get the idea. Kind of. I think it's misguided given his declining skill set, but the goal is to get a big name star to Cleveland. However, is Randolph actually that star anymore?

Randolph's 2009-12 seasons were very real, legitimate star-quality seasons. He averaged 19.4/11.1/2.0 on 49% shooting from the field with a 54% TS%, incredibly high rebounding rates, and solid defensive presence on the block. Those are All-Star quality numbers. The real brilliance shone brightly in the 2011 playoffs, when Randolph dominated with a 22/11/2.5 line while his percentages only dropped by 1%. In his prime, Zach Randolph was a veritably monstrous player.

That prime seems to have passed though. Randolph turns 33 in July, and his past two seasons have shone a decline in statistics that seem to portray that a slight drop in athleticism. You see, a guy like Randolph, who has limited athleticism and gets by on basketball intelligence and brute force, can't afford to lose much in the way of leaping ability or explosion. But unfortunately, age is a devil that cannot escape even the best players.

Randolph's field goal percentage has dropped by three percent to 46% over those seasons, and his scoring has followed down to 16 points per contest. Worse yet, Randolph has become a sub-efficient scorer that only has a 51% TS%. This is due to the difficulty he can have finishing around the rim, as he's only at 58% in his past two seasons after being at 62% in the previous two. The rebounding rates haven't dropped, as rebounding is a more positional game where Randolph can use his length and size to box out and encompass rebounds in his frame.

So, it's clear Randolph is declining somewhat and may not even be star quality before. And that doesn't even take into account the positional log-jam that the Cavs have at power forward due to Chris Grant's affinity for the position.

However, Schmitt Boyer seemed to double down on her idea this weekend in her mailbag:

Hey, Mary: Other than Kevin Love, who could be a realistic target for the Cavs to get if they included the No. 1 pick in a trade? Also, why would the Cavs take Embiid (back issues) over Wiggins? -- Mitch Heller, Cleveland

Hey, Mitch: I recently wrote a story about this, suggesting they might be able to target Memphis' Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph, among others, though their contract situations -- Randolph can be a free agent this summer -- make those moves as risky as trading for Love with no guarantee he'd return.

Umm, well. Given that I'm not even positive Randolph is a star worth acquiring anymore, what in god's name would the Cavs be doing trading for Randolph in a deal for the first overall? Let's just take this as a value proposition. And to do this, we now have to discuss Randolph's contract situation.

Randolph has an opt out for this offseason. Let's say he opts in, which I'm not positive he'll do, but let's say he does. That gives the Cavs one year of a $17 million, 33-year-old power forward who probably gives them around 15/10 given his slight declines. Then, he becomes a free agent looking to finish his career with a big contract of around 3 years, $37 million (David West's contract from last offseason).

(I'm not positive he gets that, by the way. If I was Randolph, I would probably opt out this season, and take the financial security of the probable three year, $45 million deal someone will undoubtedly give him. He could potentially make more, but guaranteeing yourself $35-45 million as a 33 year old sounds mighty enticing to me.)

So say that he even re-signs now at that three year, $37 million contract I mention with the Cavs after opting in this season. Would you rather have a 16/11 guy that's declining for 4 years, $54 million? Or would you rather have Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid's slight uncertainty with the potential for superstardom at 19 and 20 years old respectively for four years, $25 million plus restricted free agency rights?

I know the Cavs want to win right now, but I don't see this as being the right move for the team either long term or short term.

Next up in this series will be Randolph's teammate, Marc Gasol, later today.