The last time LeBron James left Cleveland, the team roster provided no real hope for the future. Anderson Varejao was the only player that was on that 2010-2011 roster when LeBron returned in 2014. The rest were either retired or battling for a roster spot on another team. The front office was limited with possible trade moves that season. Most of that roster was undesirable to the rest of the league. However, before the 2011 trade deadline former general manager Chris Grant made a trade that would be critical to the Cavs immediate future. The trade brought aging star point guard Baron Davis and an unprotected 1st round pick which ended up being Kyrie Irving. After a disaster season, the Cavs finally had a young superstar to build a team around. Unfortunately, the front office made some questionable draft picks and bad trades the next couple seasons, hurting their rebuilding process. On top of that, they never committed to making Irving being the leader of the team. If LeBron never returned in 2014, who knows what the team would look like now.
Last summer, after the King left for LA, fans were a little more upbeat about the up coming rebuild process. Yes, we we’re all bummed about him leaving again but this time the roster filled with potential. You have the young, budding playmakers which include Colin Sexton, Larry Nance, Jordan Clarkson, Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic, and David Nwaba. You have key veterans in Channing Frye and Tristian Thompson. And, of course, the super star that signed an extension in the summer, Kevin Love.
The season started off on the wrong foot. Love went down after 4 games and then the team made a coaching change. After a month into the season it was clear that Cleveland needed to commit to rebuilding. The front office sought to find mentors, young talent, and draft picks.
November 29th, 2018
Jazz get G Kyle Korver
Cavs get G Alec Burks, 2020 and 2021 second round picks
Trade Grade: B
It was unfortunate that the Cavaliers had to trade away their 3 point specialist, but with one year left on his contract it made sense to cash him out. He was only brought on to help them win another championship, and when that shipped sailed it was only fair to send him elsewhere. Utah filled their need for a sharp shooter, and the Cavs received much needed draft picks with athletic, shooting guard Alec Burks. Part of me wishes the Cavs would have kept Burks, but with the result of their trade deadline trade it was understandable to move him. Burks played a big role in a handful of the team’s wins. He averaged 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds with his time in Cleveland.
December 7th, 2018
Wizards get F Sam Dekker and 2021 second round pick (from Cavs)
Bucks get G George Hill, F Jason Smith, 2021 second round pick (from Wizards)
Cavs get G Matthew Dellavedova, C John Henson, 2021 first and second round picks (from Bucks), 2022 second round pick (from Wizards)
Trade Grade: B+
A wild trade that gave the team future assets and a mentor. The only downside of the trade for Cleveland was letting George Hill go after all the work he put in the team the past 10 months. He was upbeat about teaching and improving the younger players after LeBron left. Not all veteran players will do that. This opened the door to give 1st round pick Collin Sexton the starting point guard spot.
I was honestly shocked when I saw the Cavs traded Sam Dekker to the Wizards. Reason being, I’m used to the old Cavs’ ways. He was a veteran that was struggling on the court and was brought in mainly to mentor younger players. If it was 2010, they probably would have just kept him. Instead, they found a way to improve the roster and shipped him to DC. Bucks got veterans Hill and Smith to help with their playoff run this season. Milwaukee knew they needed to add experience to the team if they plan on going anywhere this season.
The Cavs brought back fan favorite Matthew Dellavedova to mentor this young roster. Delli was part of the last rebuilding effort and a member of the 2016 championship team. It made sense to par him back up with Frye, Thompson, and Love. His aggressive play on both ends of the court will bring back a spark for the team. He also is a fitting to help develop Sexton’s game. Possibly the most underrated parts of that trade, John Henson, has yet to see the court with Cavs after his knee surgery. I’m a fan of old school big man centers. I like Henson’s game and what he could bring on the court for the Cavaliers. I have no idea what the front office intends to do with him, but I hope they keep him around. With Thompson’s consistent injuries, it would be beneficial to utilize both Zizic and Henson to play under the basket. Last but not least, Cavs added three draft picks including a 1st round pick in the trade.
February 4th, 2019
Trail Blazers get G Rodney Hood
Cavs get G Nik Stauskas, G Wade Baldwin, 2021 and 2023 second round picks
Trade Grade: C
Rodney Hood is in the final year of his contract and he continued to be inconsistent on the court. I think many were pulling for him to improve and stay but it clearly wasn’t going to happen. In interviews he made it clear he liked playing for Cleveland but didn’t like dealing with the rebuilding process. Injuries were still a problem with him too. Cavs deal him for two expiring contracts and two second round picks. No immediate roster improvement here, but let’s see how they use those draft picks.
February 7th, 2019
Kings get G Alec Burks and a 2020 second round pick (from Rockets)
Rockets get G Iman Shumpert, G Nik Stauskas, G Wade Baldwin, and 2021 second round pick (from Cavs)
Cavs get G Brandon Knight, F Marquese Chriss, 2019 first round pick and 2022 second round pick (from Rockets)
Trade Grade: B+ (potentially an A)
Cavs make a critical trade that could be a big move in this rebuilding process. Kings walk away with a solid player in Alec Burks and a second round draft choice. Burks will fit in well with the other young assets in Sacramento. Rockets add the 3-point shooting, perimeter defender Iman Shumpert to their championship hopeful roster. Both Baldwin and Stauskas were released by Houston. Cleveland would end up signing Stauskas.
Cavs sacrificed cap space to land another 1st round pick for this upcoming draft, but they did it right. They take on the rest of Brandon Knight’s 70 million dollar contract he signed with the Suns four years ago. Knight has a history of injuries but when he plays he can be one the best scoring options on the court. Along with Knight, the Cavs acquired Marquese Chriss who is a high motor player that rebounds well, has an underrated 3-point shot, and can throw down the basketball with authority. Chriss has a lot of potential but never saw much playing time with Houston’s loaded squad. He could become a fan favorite in due time.
The Cavs owning the Rockets 1st round pick this year gives them plenty of options. The pick is expected to be a low rounder due to Houston’s potential championship run. However, there have been many role players and a few superstar selected in the lower 1st round the past decade. The Cavs could use it where it’s at, trade up with it, or trade it for more assets. Either way, Cavs gain talent and options with this trade. This coming June we’ll see what the next steps they’ll take to improve this franchise.