We know from following these NBA Drafts that getting a sure thing, even in the top five (frankly, even with the top overall pick) is never guaranteed. We have gone through the ups and downs with Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Anthony Bennett. Few teams are in a win-now gear that rivals the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James, with all the mileage, will turn 31 next season. He doesn't appear to be breaking down or anything like that, but maximizing his prime is the priority.
So who will be running with him for the next three to four seasons? All parties involved with the Cavs will tell you that continuity is important. It's something the team has given lip service to in the past, but you'd guess they probably mean it now. This summer will go a long ways towards finding out just how much they value continuity. Decisions will be made on Thompson, David Blatt, Iman Shumpert, Matthew Dellavedova, J.R. Smith, and the ball will be in Kevin Love's court.
The good news is that the Cavs have a model that has worked. The team won two games in the NBA Finals, and were even better when they had two of the top-15 players in the world healthy. In all likelihood, the goal is to keep as many pieces from this past season's team as possible.
Of course, they want to stay young, and they want to get better as well. Enter Thursday's draft. The Cavs will have the 24th selection. After trading Andrew Wiggins last season (not to mention their 2016 1st round pick), the team would have to wait until after making the pick to use it in a trade. What will they do? What should they do? Let's take a look at four main options.
They can draft a stash candidate
This is the least fun, but potentially the most prudent option. Ryan will be writing an article soon breaking down what options the Cavs will have in free agency. In all likelihood, though, the team will be all up in the luxury tax. After being in the tax this past season, the repeater tax looms large.
Now, before you yell at me about Dan Gilbert's casino, just know that there are scenarios where the Cavs' tax bill jumps up to near $180 million on top of a payroll around $125 million.
Here's one pretty simple scenario for Cavs that would nearly double Brooklyn's record $90.6M tax bill. pic.twitter.com/GSoSQx4QXz— Jacob Rosen (@WFNYJacob) June 18, 2015
Now, maybe it isn't likely they get that high. But you can draft an international player with upside, not take the guaranteed cap hit from a rookie drafted in the 20's, and either a) save that money, b) use it to retain valuable players like Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and perhaps J.R. Smith or c) use it to justify using exception money on a free agent. Or some combination of these things.
Now, I'd like to use this space to let you know about the player I'd like to stash, but I don't have an opinion here. I do know Trevor has done fantastic work on these draft profiles. He'll have more of them, and a Big Board on Thursday.
They can draft a wing
I've seen many Cavs fans clamoring for a young, athletic wing in the draft that can shoot. To which I say: I'd like all my student loans taken care of and my high school to win a state basketball championship. Jimmy Butler's don't grow on trees, though they really ought to. Bad jokes aside, they probably can find a wing who can shoot. And they probably could find a wing that projects as a defender. It'll be hard to find in one package.
It'll also be hard to find one that can help right away. How do I know this? I know very little about this draft class, after all. College players just don't often come NBA ready. Doug McDermott was not NBA ready. Most top-5 picks are not NBA ready. Could we draft someone who helps year one? Absolutely. Maybe one is a longterm replacement for Smith. Maybe it's someone who can put pressure on Joe Harris to take that role. Maybe (maybe! calm down!) they find an eventual replacement for Dellavedova. There are no guarantees.
They can draft a big
I think I'd rather they drafted a high upside big, though. There won't be any pressure on someone to come in and contribute immediately, and they'd be able to practice against and with LeBron James and a great big man rotation. Timo Mozgov has a year left on his deal. Perhaps Love signs a one year deal and the Cavs don't have long-term security. Perhaps Anderson Varejao never fully recovers. Perhaps the draft pick emerges as a cost-efficient Tristan Thompson replacement.
It's the perfect situation for the Cavs to, perhaps, add a player into a low-pressure situation that can give the team a possible security blanket.
They can hang tight and ultimately trade the pick
There have been whispers that the Cavs are open to trading their pick because they don't believe they can get someone who will contribute immediately. This is probably correct!
That doesn't make trading the pick the best option. They could trade the Haywood pick on its own on draft night when it will be worth about $2.25 million, or they can wait for the new league year (starts July 1) and it will be worth $10.5 million that any team can waive for cap relief. Maybe the Cavs will waive it for cap relief! They'll probably try and grab an asset.
I'm ambivalent about trading the pick, with or without Haywood, for an established player. You want to win now, but you don't want to give up ways to get younger. This isn't about mortgaging the farm. It's about maintaining assets and ways to get better.
Which option sounds good to you? What player sounds good to you?
Update: this article has been modified from what was originally posted. The Cavs must only wait 30 days to trade their pick if they sign them to an actual deal. Otherwise, they just have to wait until the selection is actually made.