The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to make deals and stockpile assets. The latest one dropped on Sunday afternoon, when they moved Rodney Hood to Portland for Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin, and second-round picks in 2021 and 2023. Hood will step into the rotation for the Trail Blazers, while Cleveland will have to clear a roster spot for the two incoming players, likely through terminating Kobi Simmons’ 10-day contract a few days early. The two second-rounders are the prize for the Cavaliers here, who have done an admirable job restocking their pantry of draft assets in the wake of LeBron James’ departure last summer.
Hood was acquired by Cleveland almost exactly a year ago as part of their trade deadline roster overhaul and after seeing his market evaporate in restricted free agency, signed the qualifying offer for $3.5 million to come back to the Cavaliers, albeit under very different circumstances from when he joined just seven months before. As a result, he had an implicit no-trade clause in his contract, prompting some to wonder whether he could be moved by Thursday’s deadline. Hood did not block the deal to Portland, where he’ll be able to play for them in the playoffs, rather than stick around Cleveland. The Cavaliers will get a traded player exception for the full amount of Hood’s salary, which they can use any time over the next calendar year to take on a player, or multiple players on smaller contracts, making up to $3.5 million.
Hood’s contributions will be missed on the court for Cleveland, but given where the team is with regards to competitiveness this year, the on-court loss doesn’t really matter all that much. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer anyway, so the Cavaliers didn’t give up on a long-term part of their team in this deal. They might have been able to retain Hood using his full Bird rights this summer, which he’ll lose in the move to Portland. But it was unlikely he would have wanted to stick around unless his market dried up yet again and he had no better options.
Stauskas was a key part of the Trail Blazers’ rotation early in the season but recently lost his spot to Jake Layman. After starting out the season very well for Portland, his play dropped off in December before he fell out of the rotation altogether in January. He’ll have a chance to salvage his season in Cleveland, who should be able to use him as a shooter and secondary ball handler offensively. On top of a strong three-point shot, he even flashed a bit of creation in pick-and-roll, though turnovers kept him down. At the very least, Stauskas will give the Cavaliers an improved spot-up threat to help space the floor. If Alec Burks is moved this week as expected, there will definitely be minutes available for Stauskas.
Baldwin might see some minutes for Cleveland, but has largely fallen out of the league entirely. After being taken in the first round by Memphis in 2016, the Grizzlies gave up on him after just one season amid attitude and personal issues between him and, well, just about everybody. By all accounts, Baldwin can be a difficult player to assimilate into a team and doesn’t have the talent on the court to be worth the headache. While Stauskas will be able to contribute for the Cavaliers, it would be surprising if Baldwin isn’t summarily waived in the next few days to open up a roster spot.
The crown jewel of this deal is the two second-round picks Cleveland picked up from Portland in 2021 and 2023. Both picks are reportedly unprotected and add to the Cavaliers’ war chest of draft assets in the early part of next decade. Both picks have the opportunity to be high in the second round, though the 2023 pick has a better chance. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are on contracts that run through the 2020-21 season, but if one or both are unhappy with the direction of the franchise and the club decides to move on and rebuild, the 2021 pick could be valuable.
The Trail Blazers are more likely to be in a downturn by 2023, though planning that far ahead is obviously very difficult. The one downside for Cleveland with acquiring these two particular picks is that they didn’t get a pick in 2022, which reportedly could be the “double draft” year if the NBA changes the rules regarding high school players. That decision is still very much up in the air, but if it comes to pass in 2022, that draft will include the one-and-done players from the high school class of 2021 in addition to the high school class of 2022, who will be able to jump straight to the NBA without taking a year to play in college or overseas first. This isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, especially with the uncertainty surrounding when that change will be made, but it’s worth considering, especially as the teams themselves should have more information about that than we do publicly.
Moving Hood was going to be a difficult proposition for the Cavaliers because of his implicit no-trade clause, but they were able to find a deal that both made him happy and added to their cavalcade of future draft picks. It’s not the same blockbuster move Cleveland made when they acquired Hood a year ago, but it’s a very good deal nonetheless for a rebuilding team who has looked to obtain as many picks as possible going forward. General manager Koby Altman should be far from finished, as Burks and J.R. Smith are likely right behind Hood on their way out the door, if he can find a suitable deal.