Cleveland Cavaliers Mock Draft 2019. Predictions, Preferences, and Trades.

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.

Trades

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

Celtics receive:

C Tristian Thompson

G Brandon Knight

26th overall pick

Cavaliers receive:

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

Rockets receive:

C Tristian Thompson

G J.R. Smith

C Ante Zizic

Cavaliers receive:

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.

Thunder receives:

F Kevin Love

G J.R. Smith

G Brandon Knight

Cavaliers recieve:

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.

Grading Cleveland Cavaliers 2018-19 Mid-Season Trades

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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.

Cleveland Cavaliers Coaching Carousel

On Octover 28th, 2018, the Cleveland Cavaliers fired coach Tyrone Lue. The only coach to ever win a championship for the franchise. He started the second post LeBron James era with an 0-6 start, and the front office felt it needed to make a change immediately. As of right now (October 29th), Larry Drew is the unofficial interim coach of the Cavaliers. The team has made 4 coaching changes since 2013. Two of those coaches led them to the Finals. Both were fired mid-season. Now the Cavs are turning a new leaf . . . . again. This comes 2 years after they won the NBA Finals. Stating the obvious, it is difficult to regroup when you lose a player like LeBron James. Who will be the captain of the Cavaliers sideline? Here are a few ideas:

Larry Drew

We’ll start with the new interim coach. Right now, Drew has committed to the responsibility of leading the team, but not for the rest of the season. He is demanding the Cavs make a long term commitment to him, and the Cavs seem hesitant at the moment. Bottom line, he wants the job!!! He wants to take the team under his wing and lead the charge in the new era of Cavaliers basketball. I personally wouldn’t be against it. He has been on the Cleveland sidelines for 2 seasons now. He knows the team better than anyone new they could bring in. Some of the best basketball the Cavs played last season was under Drew when Lue took his personal absence from the team. Drew made better adjustments and rotations than what was drawn up all season. It lead the Cavs to a 8-1 record until Lue returned. But yes, again, they had LeBron James. From 2010 to 2013, Drew lead the Atlanta Hawks to 3 straight playoff appearances. However, he did only win 15 games in his one and only year with Milwaukee. He was fired after they traded for Jason Kidd. In his defense, that was still the early stages of the Buck’s rebuilding period. There is a case to be made to keep Drew around long term. But if your the Cavs, can you afford to take that risk? There maybe better options in the offseason. You don’t want to fire another coach a year later. I guess we’ll wait and see.

Stepehen Silas, assistant coach of the Dallas Mavericks

The son of former Cavs coach Paul Silas would be an interesting pick. He was also an assistant for the Cavaliers when his father coached them in the early 2000’s. Silas has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2000 when he was just 27 years old. Last year in Charlotte, he filled in a few games for Steve Clifford when he became ill. Silas was also highly considered for the Houston Rockets head coach vacancy before it was taken by Mike D’Antoni. He has been given plenty of praise regarding his ability to develop players. Something to take in consideration when you have a young core like the Cavs.

Adrian Griffin, assistant coach of the Toronto Raptors

The Cavaliers have interviewed Griffin in the past for head coach. He has been assitant coach for the Bucks, Bulls, Magic, Thunder, and the 2014 USA FIBA team that won the gold. Jimmy Butler gives him some serious credit in his development into an NBA star. Scott Skiles, Tom Thibodeau, and Billy Donovan have hired him as an assitant. When you think about the names who brought him in and the talent he worked with, that alone should tell you this guy can coach basketball at the pro level. If not Cleveland, than someone else should give this guy a shot. I would encourage Cleveland to give him an interview.

Jeff Van Gundy

The man, the myth, the legend on ABC primetime NBA games. He had a successful career as an NBA coach and rumor has it he wants back in. I remember listening to him analyze on past games. He used to annoy me as much as Joe Buck does. But after a while I really enjoyed listening to him. He’s got spunk and doesn’t take any bull shit. He speaks his mind and will criticize anything he doesn’t like. Someone like me who doesn’t hold back. The man knows the game of basketball well. He can breakdown and critique anything on the court. Good and bad. I think he would bring an aggressive, old school energy to the team. Remember the days when the NBA played defense? I think he could help bring it back.

College option: Bill Self, Kansas

Self was highly considered by Cleveland before they hired David Blatt in 2014. I have reason to believe that the Cavs would interview him again if the vacancy is still open in the offseason. Self is one of the winningest coaches in the NCAA. He has over come some serious drama and egos the past few seasons, and still found a way to win. As of right now, he is being investigated by the NCAA for recruiting violations. If it gets any worse, he could pull a Pete Caroll and leave for the professional level before the university faces serious consequences. I do also believe with the G League’s new deal with one and done players, some college coaches will heavily consider the NBA since they’ll have a hard time renting out star players for a season.

Current NBA head coach option: Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers

Yes, you read that right. I know it is a stretch but hear me out. Luke Walton has already proven to be a fantastic head coach. Walton played for the Cavs during the first post LeBron James period. He may not have been a star on the court, but the team looked up to him as a leader. He kept that young team in high spirits and was huge help to coach Byron Scott. Since Walton accepted the Lakers job, a big change has happened. It’s called LeBron James. That flipped the plans of the organization. Unless they find a way to win a championship next June, Lakers will make any changes possible to keep LeBron happy. Now, I’m not saying if they don’t win a championship that Walton’s job is in jeopardy. Far from it. But hypothetically, if the Cavs called offering a trade for Luke Walton, and it opened up the door for LeBron to pick his own coach (which he never really had the opportunity to do so before), wouldn’t the Lakers consider it? The Cavs could potentially tempt LeBron in giving them his coach. Wouldn’t that be wild?

Unlikely candidate: David Blatt

Why would the Cavs go back to a former coach you say? Well they did it before with Mike Brown, so why not? Here’s my argument. Blatt is a winning coach. He has won everywhere he has been including Cleveland. He was hired to turn the team around and run his face paced offense. The potential lineup he was taking in may have looked like this:

PG Kyrie Irving

SG Andrew Wiggins

SF Gordon Hayward (admitted he planned on signing with Cavs before LeBron returned)

PF Channig Frye (had a deal in place with Cavs, but team couldn’t afford him after James signed)

C Tristian Thompson

6th Dion Waiters

That would have been a great lineup in Blatt’s system. They would have been to the playoffs but it would be a few years before a Finals appearance. But instead James returned and Kevin Love followed. That shook the whole plan up. It ended up becoming the best thing for the team. Blatt and James weren’t on the same page, and as a result Blatt was canned midseason. If the Cavs could some how make a clean slate between them and Blatt, it could surprise the fans. As long as he had the right players to work with the team could go back to winning. I wouldn’t put money on it.