The Cleveland Cavaliers are not directly involved with any of the moves that went down on Monday. The team has former players and executives involved in deals, but the Cavs are not involved in the thick of the action. That’s life as a team near the bottom and doesn’t have an A-level star or an obvious way to add one.
Still: the Bucks trading for Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic matters for the Cavs. Here’s why.
For one, as reported by ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the Cavs are getting a future second-round pick from the Bucks in exchange for removing the protections from the pick they got in exchange for George Hill. The second-round pick is year TBD, but it’s good to add picks to the cache after so many were rightfully traded out during the LeBron era. This is the way to properly move on. More importantly, the first-round pick is now an unprotected 2022 pick. Previously, it was protected 1-10 in 2022, 1-10 and 25-30 in 2023 and 1-8 in 2024. Now, the Cavs are getting it in 2022.
This is good for the Cavs, I’d argue. For one, the moves the Bucks are making seem to signal that Giannis Antetokounmpo is staying in Milwaukee. So maybe the pick is more likely to be later in the first-round now vs. higher, but at least you know where it’s going to go. Removing the protections to have the pick convey also removes the uncertainty of it turning into two second-round picks had it not conveyed in either of those three years.
Now, the 2022 NBA Draft is so far out that it’s too early to consider prospects. Per ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, there’s ‘pessimism’ regarding the draft being the so-called double draft where high school prospects can enter the draft again. That maybe lessens the potential upside of the pick.
The Cavs now have options with the pick. They could hold onto it and double-dip in that draft. Or, more interestingly, they can use that pick to trade for either players or picks. There’s some smoke out there that Cleveland wants to get another top-10 pick in this draft, so maybe they could use this pick as a part of a deal to do that. Maybe something like Cedi Osman and the Bucks pick to the Suns for No. 10 and Frank Kaminsky could work? If the top-10 isn’t doable, maybe the Celtics at No. 14, the Mavericks at No. 18 or the 76ers at no. 21 could make sense. (For me, No. 14 would be the cut-off.)
There’s also the potential that the 2022 pick does work in the Cavs’ favor. Maybe (but hopefully not) Giannis gets hurt and the pick is higher than a year in a fluke outcome. Maybe Giannis gets discontent before then, forces his way out and the Bucks then crater. That doesn’t feel likely, but it’s one of several possible outcomes.
What ultimately happens with this pick is unclear and it’s still a little bit hard to figure out what value this pick has. But the Cavs benefited in some way from what the Bucks did on Monday.