With the trade deadline looming, here is your primer for what the Cavs could do between now and Feb. 8.
Are the Cavs buyers or sellers?
The Cavs, without question, will be buyers. Reporting already suggests that the Cavs are a lock to make a deal before the deadline. The one question is big of buyers they will be.
Koby Altman has a few different options. On one hand, he could make moves on the edge of the roster, bank on internal improvement and use smaller assets (the Cavs’ own first round pick, Ante Zizic, etc.) to acquire players who would play 10-15 minutes in the playoffs. On the other hand, he could go all in. Perhaps the Nets pick — not likely be a top-three pick as previously hoped, but still a top-10 pick in what is supposed to be a good draft — could swing the Cavs if one of the higher-end players that becomes available over the next few weeks. Maybe Tristan Thompson, already reported to be available, is used to sweeten a possible deal and match salary. And maybe players like Kevin Love or Isaiah Thomas are put on the market as well.
Who is on the block and who is considered untradeable?
The only truly untouchable player on the Cavs roster is LeBron James. Love and Thomas seem unlikely to be dealt, but surely would be on the table if the right deal presented itself. The Cavs would probably likely to get off of the rest of Iman Shumpert’s contract. And if the team makes a significant trade, Thompson’s salary makes him a likely candidate to be included in any package — almost any trade involving large salary won’t work if he’s not included.
One of the more interesting names on the roster could be Cedi Osman. Aside from the Nets pick, Osman is the Cavs’ best asset. He also a player the Cavs would want around to help kickstart a rebuild were James to leave next summer. Osman has also been a useful player as a rookie and has already made a mark. Would the Cavs be willing to trade him if push came to shove?
What holes will the Cavs try to fill?
Per nba.com/stats, the Cavs are 29th in the defense. The only team worse than Cleveland are the Sacramento Kings, so amongst teams actually trying to win games this season, the Cavs have the NBA’s worst defense. Every move they make will likely be to improve the team’s defense, be that on perimeter or in the paint. If the player(s) Cleveland acquires can help with rebounding and/or with shooting, that’ll be an added bonus.
What is my dream trade?
If the Thunder were still struggling, the Nets pick and Thompson (and whatever else Sam Presti wanted) for Paul George would be the dream. Something similar for Grizzlies center Marc Gasol would be fine too. Thompson for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan would be an interesting move too.
In truth, it’d be most interesting to see the Cavs make several moves. First, let’s do a Jordan-Thompson swap, improving the Cavs’ rim protection and giving Love better defensive cover. Then, let’s use the Cavs’ own first round pick and Shumpert for one of the wings perhaps available (Denver’s Wilson Chandler and Orlando’s Jonathan Simmons top my personal list) before trying to acquire a cheap backup point guard that isn’t Jose Calderon or Derrick Rose.