Cleveland’s second post-LeBron era started rough, but not as rough as the first time around. Last time King James left the Cavs, they had a weak core with a bleak future. Fortunately, the balls rolled Cleveland’s way and the landed the 1st and 4th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. However, the 2018-19 season was the exact opposite. The team currently has a core of young players to build on along with key veteran players who want to help the team succeed. Despite having the second best chances at the 1st pick, their first round pick dropped to the 5th overall pick in the lottery. Both the 2010-11 and the 2018-19 teams had the second worst record in the league with 19 wins. Go figure.
Cavaliers shocked the league in early May hiring University of Michigan’s John Beilein as their new coach. With his background it was clear what the Cavs were planning to do. Develop the young talent and find any possible way to win. Beilein has a reputation of winning anywhere he coaches.
With the offseason just around the corner, Cavaliers have many question marks regarding their roster. A handful of salary heavy contracts could be moved for their benefit. The team is also expected to debate whether to extend or move expiring contracts. Whatever they decide to do has to bring an immediate, positive impact to the team. Their last attempt at rebuilding was a disaster, and we would still be feeling effects of it if it wasn’t for LeBron’s return in 2014. The next chapter of Cavaliers basketball starts on draft night.
Cavaliers Mock Draft
5th Pick, F Cameron Reddish, Duke
Cleveland fell short of landing a top 3 pick in the draft. Fortunately, the 5th overall pick has been used on several Hall of Fame ballers in the past. It is possible, but the Cavs have to get it right which is a stretch judging by their draft history. Yet I ask fans to remain hopeful.
The one thing the front office continues to do consistently since Dan Gilbert has owned the team is keeping their high picks secret. There have been many reports on potential picks here, but it all could be a smokescreen.
Before the college basketball season started, many thought Reddish and North Carolina’s Nessir Little would be the potential best prospects for this draft. Reddish’s teammates Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett stole the show and reshaped draft boards across the league. Reddish had a slow season start but progressively got better. He averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and shot 35.6% from the field.
There is alot to like from Reddish. An offensive powerhouse, great passing skills, and quick hands on the defensive end. It is no secret Cleveland is eyeing a new wing man. Reddish seems more fitting for what Kobe Altman wants to bring to the team. His hustle would mesh well with Sexton and Osman on the backcourt.
26th Pick (from Rockets), C Daniel Gafford, Arkansas
Cavs received this pick back at the trade deadline knowing it will be a low pick. It is likely they trade up or use this pick as a trade piece. But with the chance they decide to pick here, I think they go big! Tristan Thompson was consistently hurt, John Henson never saw the court after he was traded to Cleveland, and Ante Zizic’s future with the team seems uncertain. Cavs need a center project.
Gafford averaged 16.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2 blocks with the Razorbacks last season. Even with the solid offensive numbers, he is predicted to be a more of a defensive force at the pro level. There have been some comparisons to Chris “Birdman” Anderson. If that’s true, Cavs could really use that kind of defensive skill off the bench.
My picks for the Cavaliers
5th Pick, G Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
Cavs were one of the better defensive efficiency teams in the league last season, but still could use more defensive playmaking. They were also inconsistent from the field. Culver is a two-way player that helps both those needs. A 3-point specialist with above average defensive skills. There are some analysts that say he will be a solid role player but no star potential. I’m no expert, but with his frame and some work he could be a similar player to someone like Klay Thompson.
There is a debate whether or not he is available with this pick. I think the Lakers with the 4th pick go a different direction and we’ll still see his name on the board when the Cavs are on the clock. Culver averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists for the Red Raiders.
26th Pick, F Cameron Johnson, North Carolina
In order to win in the NBA these days you need to have accurate shooters to help spread the floor. Cavaliers were middle of the pack from the 3-point line and one of the worst in overall shooting percentage last season. Taking Cameron Johnson here is a low risk high reward situation. You could debate that there are better options here for the Cavaliers system, but you can’t deny that they need more efficient scorers on the team and that is what Johnson brings to the table.
Johnson averaged 16.9 PPG, made 50.6 % of his shots, and shot 45.7% from behind the arc in his senior season. One of the best shooters in college basketball last season. His defense was solid but will need some work to prepare for the pro level. The main concern teams have is his age. Most of these prospects range from age 18 to 21, and Johnson will be turning 23 soon. It is tough to pin point who will come out big near the end of the 1st round, but I see Johnson as a quality pick here.
Despite the tough season, Cavs have some attractive trade pieces. Some contracts are expiring and some could be bought out to save other teams some salary cap room. Free agency is not a for sure thing. Yes, money talks but NBA players heavily consider atmosphere and location. That being said, Cleveland is not the sexiest place to play if you’re a star basketball player. Adding pieces via trade maybe the only choice the team has this season to getting some better talent on the roster. Good news for fans, it was reported recently that the team has no plans on trading their biggest contract, Kevin Love. His presence on and off the court should help the rebuilding process. But Kevin is going to need some more help.
Possible Draft Day Trade: Cavs get a veteran and more picks
C Tristian Thompson
G Brandon Knight
26th overall pick
F Gordon Hayward
14th overall pick
20th overall pick
22nd overall pick
Potential protected future 1st round pick
There is no secret Boston wants Anthony Davis. However, they currently do not have the cap room and they need to find the cap room fast if they have any chance of getting him. Hayward is owed over $30 million per year for the next 3 seasons. Dumping that contract gives Boston the opportunity to potentially land Davis in the near future. Hayward is still a great player, but he doesn’t mesh well with the pieces Boston currently has. Building the team around him and Kyrie just didn’t work out.
There are very few teams with the cap room to take Hayward’s massive contract. Cleveland being one of them. If Boston wants them to take in the whole deal they have to give the Cavs something else. That something else would be their 3 first round picks of this draft plus a future one. I would anticipate Boston makes the future pick protected but Cleveland could encourage to make it unprotected given the circumstances.
Cavs accepting this trade would be HUGE for the immediate future. Hayward would be a great fit with Love to help lead and improve the team. They would have 3 picks in the top 20 of the draft and give themselves 4 prospects to help mold their future, assuming they make the right picks. Players such as Cedi Osman and Colin Sexton could learn a lot from Hayward. Celtics get the expiring contract of Tristian Thompson, a bench scorer in Brandon Knight, and a low first round pick. Ultimately they get the cap space to add a superstar player. Yes, that could hurt the Cavs in conference play, but overall it’s a win-win situation for both teams.
Possible J.R. Smith trade: Cavs get a young shooter
Rockets receive G J.R. Smith
Kings receive G Eric Gordon and 2 2nd round picks from Cavs
Cavs receive G Bogdan Bogdanovic
These three again?! Yep! Possibly. If you can remember, these three teams pulled a trade near trade deadline that helped give Cavs their second 1st round pick for the upcoming draft. In this scenario, they work out a potential trade that helps swap a set of guards. To be clear, in order for this trade to work Cavs would have to make roster adjustments because their over the luxury tax. Later in the offseason this trade has better chance at happening because of all the potential roster moves.
Rockets are looking for new pieces and really like Smith. There is a chance Rockets could trade for Smith just to buy him out, but his arrogant attitude and trash talking seem to be a good fit for Houston. Kings need any help they can get and Gordon is coming off a solid season. There are no promises that Harrison Barnes accepts his player option, so it might be best for Sacramento to invest in another veteran scoring option. Cavs would receive the 6’6 sharp shooter Bogdanovic who is coming off an exceptional rookie campaign. Another young piece to help build this team and give Coach Belein another offensive weapon.
Realistic, huge trade possibility: Cavs go BIG
C Tristian Thompson
G J.R. Smith
C Ante Zizic
C Clint Capela
G Eric Gordon
There is a FIRE SALE in Houston! After another failed attempt at dethroning the Golden State Warriors from the West, Rockets GM Daryl Morey said that every player on the roster is up for trade. It is safe to say James Harden and Chris Paul will be unlikely be traded, but that team needs a roster overhaul if they have any chance of winning the Western conference next season.
Cavaliers are one of the few teams Houston can make a trade with to help dump cap room. I know on paper this trade looks lopsided Cleveland’s way, but hear me out on this. Tristian Thompson is an expiring contract and when healthy can play as the Rockets starting center. Houston actually likes J.R. Smith. Whether they decide to keep him will remain to be seen, but they’re interested in acquiring him. Rockets could either keep Zizic to develop him or cut ties with him.
Cavs obviously get two major pieces here. One of the best centers in the league with Capela and an offensive weapon with Gordon. Capela still has 4 years left on his contract. This would be a move that gets the Cavs back in playoff talk. Yes, I said the P word. The Eastern Conference is improving but is still not up with the West. This trade would put the Cavs in position to compete for a low or mid seed, barring injuries of course. If this does happen, it will be their biggest trade since acquiring Kevin Love (I don’t count the Kyrie trade).
Unrealistic but possible trade idea: Kevin Love reports are a smokescreen and Cavs break fans hearts for a possible better future plan.
F Kevin Love
G J.R. Smith
G Brandon Knight
C Steven Adams
G Dennis Schroder
F Jerami Grant
I believe the reports stating Love is not for sale, and I perfer he stays in Cleveland. But we’ve seen this before and if the front office finds a deal they can’t refuse, they’ll pull the trigger. So what would lead to a trade like this?
Let’s start by putting ourselves in the Thunder’s shoes. Oklahoma City has been a top 10 team in the league the past 5 or so seasons. Despite having one of the best rosters every season, they haven’t won the West conference since the 2011-12 season. Westbrook is always in MVP talks. Paul George signed long term and just had his best season with the team. But they couldn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Something has to change.
There is speculation that Kevin Durant could return to his former team in the offseason, but in this scenario let’s say Durant stays in Golden State or goes elsewhere. You know OKC needs another piece to help Westbrook and George. Steven Adams is one of the better centers in the league, but does not provide that offensive spark against the better teams. This is where Kevin Love makes sense. When healthy, he is one of the best third wheel option to have along with other NBA stars. We saw it in the second LeBron-era.
Thunder goes all in hoping Love is that missing piece that will get them back into the the Finals. OKC would take Smith and Knight’s contracts to help blossom the bench.
Cavaliers get 3 starters out of the deal. Steven Adams at center, Jerami Grant at power forward, and Dennis Schroder at point guard. This would move Colin Sexton to the bench which the Cavs are seriously debating for next season. If Cavs decide to hold on to Tristian Thompson they could move Grant to small forward and put Thompson at power forward. This would give Cavs more experienced veterans on the team that would help the rebuild process. The big risk with this move for Cleveland would be the team chemistry and morale. Love is a huge part of the team and locker room. Sending him elsewhere for 3 players that aren’t on the same page could potentially hurt the team’s performance next season. On paper it looks like a win on both sides, but both carry some serious risk. I wouldn’t place a bet on such a trade.