Five questions about the Cavs after the trade deadline, four Fear the Sword writers. Be sure to give your answers below too.
1. What letter grade do you give the Cavs’ trade deadline?
Chris Manning (@cwmwrites): An A. When Koby Altman looks back at the deals he made, there will be no reason to think he could have done any better. And every move puts the Cavs on the correct rebuilding path that relies on player development, proper asset management and patience. This is step one, but a necessary step.
Ryan Mourton (@Ryan_Mourton): A. They didn’t keep any expiring assets and while they didn’t use JR to absorb salary now they still can right up until they start of free agency. No missteps here.
Zac Lockwood (@thezlock): I gotta give them the old 89.97 percent B+ that you email your professor about even though he already curved the class. The professor will respond that he cannot round up because, even though you did well in the class, there was more you could have done but chose not to do.
Jackson Flickinger (@Akron_Jackson): B+. The Cavs did exactly what they needed to do at the deadline. They flipped all of their expiring contracts at the deadline and were able to get a first. Flipping J.R. Smith at the deadline would’ve been nice, but Altman still has a chance to move his contract in the offseason. All and all, there’s nothing to complain about here.
2. Does this deadline change your opinion of Koby Altman at all?
CM: I think this deadline cements Altman’s vision for the franchise and it’s the right path to take. What he, assistant general manager Mike Gansey and scouting director Brandon Weems do this summer in the draft and free agency — and how it turns out — will tell us more. But this was absolutely a great first step.
RM: No. He didn’t make any mistakes but the asset acquisition phase of rebuilding is the easiest there is, as long as the owner is willing it’s hard not to clean up in this phase. Obviously credit due, but there were no rep defining wins here.
ZL: I think every day I get a little more warm towards him until eventually he’ll get fired or I’ll look at him like David Griffin. He made the little moves that teams in our situation HAVE to make in order to reboot and collected assets faster than OG DG could trade them away in 2016.
JF: Not really. Acquiring assets is one of the easier parts of rebuilding. Altman did a great job of essentially flipping Kyle Korver for a first and two seconds, but none of the other moves were home runs. My opinion of him will change more when we see what he’s able to do with multiple first round picks.
3. Do you have any interest in watching Brandon Knight or Marquese Chriss?
RM: No. I have seen Chriss up close multiple times in Vegas (shout out to the Cox Pavilion, the best hoop watching press seats around) and didn’t stand out at all. I have said it about him and Dragan Bender multiple times: If I didn’t plan on watching them because of their draft status, I’d never notice they were there.
ZL: I am actively interested in seeing Cleveland Cavalier Brandon Knight get crossed by opposing players and fall down just so that I can think about Kyrie Irving more.
JF: Neither player is going to be a building block for the franchise. They’re just placeholders while this team continues to rebuild. The only value I see from a player like Knight is his expiring contract that the Cavs could possibly flip at the deadline next year.
4. Are you any more optimistic or pessimistic about the Cavs’ future after this deadline and them acquiring a slew of picks?
CM: It’s hard to not be optimistic. The Cavs didn’t hedge here — they got picks and prioritized the future and did exactly what a team in their position would do. The next step is to not sign Earl Clark and trade for Luol Deng in an effort to be the No. 8 seed next season.
RM: Hard not to be more optimistic, they can do more things now and they didn’t sit on their hands like with Antawn Jamison and Wally Szczerbiak. More picks is more opportunity and two first-round picks this year is nice.
ZL: Much more optimistic about the Cavs’ future, but also we just gave this front office more opportunities to screw up draft picks so I’m just hoping we hit on the few picks that will matter. I don’t have a lot of confidence in Cleveland’s ability to find worthwhile players in the 20-45 range and now we have a bunch of picks in the coming years that will likely land there.
JF: There’s plenty of room for optimism considering the Cavs came into the year with the possibility of no first-round picks. The NBA draft is somewhat of a crapshoot and the more chances you have at finding a prospect the better. There’s plenty of room to criticize Altman’s selection of Collin Sexton last year, but that is the only selection he’s made as his time as GM. Having more bites at the apple will allow us to judge what kind of talent evaluator Altman is.
5. What’s your favorite non-Cavs move made at the deadline?
CM: I will forever be fascinated by Markelle Fultz. Orlando is a pretty perfect place for him to reboot his career away from the spotlight on a team that has the incentive to be patient with him and give him time to get things right again. And if they keep Nikola Vucevic (or Fultz returns this year) that’s a pretty good pick-and-pop partner for him to work with.
RM: The Sixers adding Tobias Harris speaks to me. Love what they have going on if they can get a backup point guard in the buyout market. Marcin Gortat would also be great there.
ZL: The Bucks grabbing Nikola Mirotic makes them my favorite to win the East both this year and next barring anything extreme. I’m concerned that they will never draft another player, but I’m hopeful that they’ll string along enough success to hang onto Giannis and give us a lukewarm first round pick in a million years.
JF: The Clippers moves have been very interesting to me. They made two separate moves where they sent out Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley and others to create two max slots. In the process they also acquired four draft picks including the Heat’s unprotected 2021 unprotected first which could be at the top of the lottery considering how poorly Miami has handled their post-LeBron era. The Clippers were also able to grab a couple decent prospects in Landry Shamet and Ivica Zubac while improving their chances of keeping their own pick for this year. The combination of future assets and cap space could make the Clippers the top free agent destination this summer.