The Cavaliers won the draft lottery on Tuesday. I was ecstatic. Luck bounced in the wine and gold’s favor one more time, and now, despite the relentless reminders that this is yet another weak draft1, the Cavaliers are going to be adding a significant piece to the core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson2
With that in mind, fresh off my profession of love for Otto Porter along with tweets indicating I would be completely happy with Nerlens Noel in Cleveland, I’m going to explore the third avenue, dealing the pick for an instant impact player that will likely make the playoffs next season a reality.
I’m a huge fan of former Plain Dealer/Akron Beacon Journal and current ESPN columnist Brian Windhorst’s work. He remains one of the most plugged in people in terms of quality, timely information about the Cavaliers despite his relocation to Miami. When I listen to him on radio shows or read him in print, he continues to stress that the LeBron James summer of 2014 saga will be an interesting (and potentially important) one for Cavs fans. Whether LeBron James comes back or not (I’m still in the “leaving the door and cap room open but no way in hell counting on it” camp), they need a second All-Star caliber player to pair with Kyrie Irving to take this team to the next level. It remains to be seen how much Waiters and Thompson further develop, but this team quite simply needs more talent right now. All along, Windhorst has maintained that the Cavaliers have been gathering all of these picks, cap room, and young players as assets to eventually flip in a big move. Think the James Harden trade to Houston.
With that thought in mind earlier this week, I went to Hoopshype and poured through every team’s salary books. What I was looking for were players under control for the upcoming season (preferably two or three seasons of team control), on the right side of 30 (there are a few exceptions on my list), and would slot in at a position long term that doesn’t interfere with core players (i.e.: no point guards and very few shooting guards and power forwards). What I came up with (and ciruclated to my WFNY colleagues behind the scenes) was a list of 25 players that, at first glance, I wouldn’t mind having on this team in a prominent role.
Now, for some qualifiers. I’m NOT saying I would trade the #1 pick for these guys straight up. I’m NOT saying that everyone in this list I would pull the trigger on. All I’m saying is when I poured through the teams, these guys caught my eyes. Without further ado, here’s the list, along with the players’ ages and team control.
Jeff Green – Boston – (27) – 2 years, $17.9 million on contract plus $9.2 player option
Al Horford – Atlanta – (27) – 3 years, $36 million
Brook Lopez – Brooklyn – (25) – 3 years, $47.2 million
Gerald Wallace – Brooklyn – (31) – 3 years, $30.3 million
Luol Deng – Chicago – (28) – 1 year, $14.3 million
Danilo Gallinari – Denver – (25) – 3 years, $32.6 million
Greg Monroe – Detroit – (23) – 1 year, $4.1 million plus a $5.5 million qualifying offer
David Lee – Golden State – (30) – 3 years, $44.3 million
Roy Hibbert – Indiana – (26) – 2 years, $29.2 million plus a $15.5 million player option
Pau Gasol – Los Angeles Lakers – (33) – 1 year, $19.3 million
Zach Randolph – Memphis – (32) – 1 year, $17.8 million plus a $16.5 million player option
Marc Gasol – Memphis – (28) – 2 years, $30.7 million
Chris Bosh – Miami – (29) – 1 year, $19.1 million plus 2 years, $42.7 million in player options
Ersan Ilyasova – Milwaukee – (26) – 3 years, $23.7 million plus a $8.4 million team option
Kevin Love – Minnesota – (25) – 3 years, $47.1 million
Eric Gordon – New Orleans – (25) – 3 years, $44.7 million
Tyson Chandler – New York – (31) – 2 years, $28.7 million
Amar’e Stoudemire – New York – (31) – 2 years, $45.1 million
Serge Ibaka – Oklahoma City – (24) – 4 years, $49 million
Lamarcus Aldridge – Portland – (28) – 2 years, $29.3 million
Nicolas Batum – Portland – (24) – 3 years, $34.2 million
Demarcus Cousins – Sacramento – (23) 1 year, $4.9 million plus a $6.5 million qualifying offer
Rudy Gay – Toronto – (27) – 1 year, $17.9 million plus a $19.3 million player option
Andrea Bargnani – Toronto – (28) – 2 years, $23 million
Nene – Washington – (31) – 3 years, $39 million
Now, let’s start narrowing down the list…..
Too old/too many miles/injuries:
Pau Gasol would be the wrong move, unless it’s for our second round picks. He would make the team instantly better, but you’re going to only have him for one year. He’s also 33 and battled injuries last year. I’m not willing to restart the Amar’e safari. The Knicks were better most of the year without him. Gerald Wallace is more healthy when he plays the small forward position, and I like his do-everything game, but he’s had injury issues as well. I’m just not a big Zach Randolph guy, and the age doesn’t help.
Pipe dream/Probably untouchable:
For these guys, I would package the #1 plus maybe other significant pieces. But, Minnesota got rid of Kahn and is not going to let Love go. Ibaka just got locked up on a very reasonable deal by OKC, and after the Harden deal backlash, no way they deal Ibaka right now. Miami and Cleveland won’t be on speaking terms, probably forever, so Bosh ain’t happening. I love Marc Gasol’s game, but Memphis is going to make a run with him as the man in the middle it would appear.
Not game-changing enough to pull the trigger:
Nene and Chandler are nice players, but they’re not enough of an impact at this point in their careers to be the type of big splash move that I’m considering for the purposes of this article.
In the end, thanks but no thanks:
I think Demarcus Cousins is a phenomenal player, but he’s a head case and a bad locker room guy. I don’t want that type of personality in the Cavalier locker room, because his issues are so problematic that they can extend onto the court. Bargnani is a little soft for my liking if you’re going to play him at center. David Lee’s contract is too big, and Golden State got better while he was down.
Good fits as part of a core going forward:
If you can pull Hibbert from Indiana or Monroe from Detroit for the one, you do it, but I don’t think they will go for that. Al Horford is just realistic enough to keep it out of “pipe dream” status, but I think Ferry wants to build around him in Atlanta. I like Gallinari a lot, despite that low shooting percentage, because of his ability to create shots for himself, convert at the line, and knock down three pointers.
Assets the Cavaliers have to trade potentially:
Picks #1, 19, 31, and 33 in the 2013 NBA Draft
6 future first-round picks over the next 3 years
Tristan Thompson, but ONLY if it’s a huge, blockbuster deal returning a scoring big man
Three acquisitions that I think are doable:
The reality is that the Brooklyn Nets spent a lot of money and are now locked into a pretty mediocre playoff team for the next several years. They have an entire payroll committed to Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, and Lopez. They’ve already stupidly used their amnesty on bit player Travis Outlaw. If the team wanted to get more defensive minded and avoid the cap bullet that’s about to hit them, maybe the Cavs get Lopez for the #1 and another future #1. They draft Nerlens Noel to man the middle. Remember, this cap thing is for real. Can Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov afford to pay a potential 4.5 dollars for every dollar over the salary cap repeater tax for two years? This deal would have saved the Nets $28 million dollars in luxury tax BEFORE you factor in the repeater tax ON TOP OF the $47 million in Lopez’s actual contract they’d be saving. With the repeater tax, this deal would save them $42 million dollars roughly for next year alone IN TAXES. A deal would have the potential to save the Nets well over $100 million in total. For the Cavs, Lopez is 25 and a capable scorer in the post. With a 24.7 PER, 19 points per game, and a 52% field goal percentage last year, sign me up. I’d break the bank to pair him with Kyrie, Dion, and Tristan.
Ilyasova is hands down one of the most underrated players in the NBA. Because he plays in Milwaukee, he’s seldom talked about, but this guy is a producer. While he was just a 13 point, 7 rebound guy last year, his value is much more than that. Remember who he played with (Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, both guys who need lots of shots) and notice that he played just 28 minutes per game and started 54 games out of 73 last year. Per 36 stats make him a 17 and 9 guy. He’s a remarkably efficient shooter for someone who hangs around the perimeter a decent amount (46%/44%/80% FG/3pt/FT) and his advanced numbers are great too (55% true shooting percentage, 52% effective field goal percentage, 18.3 PER, 6.7 win shares). The Bucks are in no man’s land as a fringe playoff team. Maybe the Cavs can pry away Ilyasova. This one takes a little more forecasting and trust in a “team fit” approach, because I could see Ilyasova being a phenomenal third scoring option on the future Cavs. I realize this one would be far less popular than the other two. Maybe, Chris Grant gets ultra creative and finds a way to get Ilyasova without forking over the #1 pick. If he can, that would be awesome.
Lamarcus Aldridge/Nicolas Batum:
The Cavaliers, according to Windhorst, have been asking about Aldridge on and off for some time. He’s a fringe All-Star in the prime of his career, and he has two years left on his deal at a reasonable price. The Cavaliers apparently were ready to offer Nicolas Batum a contract offer as a restricted free agent last season, and he would slot in amazingly as a tall, athletic small forward. My dream scenario would be could you give Portland Tristan Thompson, the #1 pick, Varejao, and a future draft selection to part with these two guys? How does a Kyrie/Dion/Batum/Aldridge/whoever starting five sound for next season? Sounds amazing to me. It’s probably not enough for Portland to pull the trigger, because they’re fighting the same battles in free agents not wanting to sign there as the Cavs are, so the cap space created doesn’t do them as many favors. Maybe, however, one of these guys is attainable.
Ok, I’ve started the discussion. I still think the Cavs end up taking either Nerlens Noel or Otto Porter with the first pick, but if they don’t, I’ve highlighted some scenarios that I would consider.
(Photo: US Presswire)