The 2019-20 season has not been kind for two NBA franchise who have spent the better part of a decade battling each other for supremacy. Today these two teams are still jockeying for position, but not for a championship... At least not for this year's championship.
The Golden State Warriors have again out paced their bitter rivals, the Cleveland Cavaliers, once again by only contributing 5 W's to the combined 12 of 57 games. Though both teams have found themselves "rebuilding" after each roster lost one of arguably two top players the NBA has ever seen, the Cleveland Cavaliers currently have a better strategic rebuilding position.
Given that both teams find themselves as one of the 5 worst NBA teams, both have statistically the same chance at retaining the coveted 1st overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Both teams also have retained their 1st round 2020 picks, but neither have a 2nd round pick. However that is where their similarities end.
In the next 5 upcoming NBA drafts the Cleveland Cavaliers have accumulated six 1st round and five 2nd round picks. While the Warriors have only retained 5 first round picks (*possibly 4 depending on where they fall in 2024) and only one 2nd round pick. The more draft picks that an NBA GM has, the more opportunities they afford themselves to return their respective teams to NBA supremacy more quickly. Those opportunities are usually realized through the talent that is acquired via the draft, or by trading those draft opportunities to acquire talent from respective teams. Regardless of how talent is acquired, it costs millions of dollars to retain that talent, which brings us to the other reason why Cleveland Cavaliers GM, Koby Aultman, is in a better strategic rebuilding position than that of his counterpart, Bob Myers... Cap Space.
Currently both the Warriors and Cavaliers have two of the NBA worst available cap space for retaining any future acquired talent. The Cavaliers are $22,216,860 and the Warriors are $29,413,076 over the cap respectively. However, due to the contracts that are already on the books, the Golden State Warriors will remain to have the highest parole in the NBA over the next three seasons. The Cavaliers however have so many expiring contracts this year, that they will will be positioned with the NBA's 3rd most available cap space. Leaving Koby Aultman with more strategic flexibility. That is unless Warriors' GM, Bob Myers requests a trade deadline dance with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have one player who fulfills a current need position for the Warriors as well as provides the means with an expiring contract ($18,539,130) that would aid in the signing of a premium free agent in 2020, the likes of Gordon Hayward (SF), DeMar DeRozan (SG), or Andre Drummond (C). This Cavaliers player is currently having his best overall statistical year, he has averaged a double/double over an eight year career, and is recognized as one of the top 5 rebounders in the NBA. He has also the IronMan of the NBA missing an average of 8 games per season his career. (*The average NBA player misses 18% of games or about 15 games per season). That player is the Cavaliers starting center Tristan Thompson.
Koby Aultman would not just give such a valuable Cavaliers' assets to their arch rival for nothing. There are multiple scenarios that work to both teams favor, but the most beneficial would be the following:
|Golden State Warriors||Cleveland Cavaliers|
With this trade the Cleveland Cavaliers would gain a young shooting guard to pair with last year's number one draft pick point guard Darius Garland. Russell's presence would also afford more flexibility for Coach John Beilein to develop 19 year old stand out guard Kevin Porter Jr. Along with Russell, the Cavs would also receive a position player of need given they are trading away their big man. Stein is an average 26 year old NBA player that can defend at the rim on occasion, but is plagued by inconsistency.
Besides a better strategic position that would aid in future signings of premium free agents, as well as adding a Double/Double big man, the Golden State Warriors would add one of the most dynamic guards in the league and has the tools to become a versatile weapon at the NBA. Collin Sexton has been compared to a John Wall with Russell Westbrook speed and athleticism.
I seriously doubt that neither Golden State Warriors' GM Bob Myers nor Cleveland Cavaliers' GM Koby Aultman claim to be great dancers, but sometimes you have to dance with the devil to get out of NBA Hell.