The NBA Finals are over. LeBron James and the Miami Heat won their second straight title. Cleveland has responded to this news with our customary, understated, aplomb. But now that we’ve lashed out at various ESPN employees and Browns players and we’ve all had a good solid cry, we’re free to focus on our favorite of subjects, the draft.
The draft is Thursday. We have less than a week of smoke screens, film rooms, and weird trade rumors that only kinda, sorta make sense. We’re coming down to the brass tacks and I hope Chris Grant is wearing his glasses.
Kentucky center Nerlens Noel is the closest thing we have in a “consensus number one pick”, the issue of who to take first overall is by no means settled. While most folks have the Cavs selecting Noel, names like Alex Len, Otto Porter and even Ben McLemore have appeared at the top of mock drafts in recent days.
But who to select with that top pick isn’t the Cavs only concern. They have three more picks in the top 33 (19, 31 and 33), which means they have a ton of options.
Option No. 1. – You have four picks, draft four players.
Standing pat and making picks at 1, 19, 31 and 33 is simplest option but also the least likely. While the Cavs want to add to their young core, they’re not going to add four guys with zero NBA experience to a 24 win team. The Cavs have told everyone who will listen that they don’t want to be in the lottery next season and if that’s the case, they need to add some veteran players (and preferably good ones!) to this young roster. In the unlikely event that Chris Grant doesn’t pull off a deal and the Cavs hold on to their second rounders, I would expect them to grab a foreign player and stash him overseas for a season or two.
Most folks consider 31 and 33 as good as gone. I dunno about anyone else, but I haven’t familiarized myself with any second round prospects. I would be more shocked if the Cavs kept their second round picks than if they traded out of the top spot.
I’m okay with the Cavs flipping these late round picks to move up, but I do wonder if they’re getting a little too cute. You can find good value with early second round picks; often players with first round talent but with various issues (size, make up, injuries) can fall to the second round and you can select that ‘troubled’ player without saddling yourself with a guaranteed, first round, contract.
Option No. 2. – Trade the No. 1 pick for a haul of Good Stuff.
There have been reports that the Cavs are overvaluing the No. 1 pick in trade negotiations. Good. If the Cavs are going to be the first team since Orlando in 1993 to trade the number one overall pick, then of course you ask the moon for it. There’s been rumblings that the Cavs have explored a deal that would’ve gotten them Derrick Williams and Minnesota’s 9th overall selection. If “Derrick Williams and the 9th pick” is characteristic of type of offers Grant is receiving, we’re shocked that he’s asking for more?
The number one pick rarely gets traded and that’s because it’s very hard to get value for something with so much unknown potential. The top pick is generally considered to be a potential All-Star and teams don’t tend to trade potential All-Stars without getting burned. If the Cavs move out of that top spot, I hope to Mark Price that they’d get a better deal than “Derrick Williams and the 9th pick”.
Option No. 3. – Draft the top pick, deal the rest.
In my mind, this is the most likely scenario. The top pick may be hard to deal, but picks later in the draft get moved all the time. The Cavs have reportedly been involved in talks with Dallas for the 13th pick and Shawn Marion for the 19th pick and various parts. There’s also been some rumored interest in trading the two second rounders for Paul Pierce.
I’m more enamored with the Dallas trade than potentially adding Pierce, but I see the logic to these trades. If the Cavs can flip some second round picks into (one year) of a veteran, winning player, I can see the appeal. With so many young players on the roster, the Cavs could use some vets who’ve both Been There Before and Are Better Than Luke Walton. They did the same thing last season when they traded up with Dallas to grab Tyler Zeller.
What makes Pierce and Marion (as well as Pau Gasol) so attractive is that they’re in the least year of their deals; you can add a piece that can help push you towards the playoffs and still keep your cap clean for the summer of 2014.
Not to mention you’ll be adding these guys in a contract year, so they’ll have plenty of incentives to be in shape and play hard. The sooner the Cavs can get Kyrie, Dion and co. into the playoffs and have them experience those “you thought you were playing hard before, but really this is playoff basketball” minutes, the better. I would imagine that adding a veteran piece simply by flipping some draft picks would be really attractive to Grant.
This is the biggest offseason that the Cavs have had since LeBron left. Decisions made on draft day will have a ripple effect on the franchise for years down the road. With four picks in Thursday’s draft, future additional picks coming from Memphis, Sacramento and Miami and a boatload of offseason capspace, positioned to make virtually any type of move.
Grant has done a good job of maneuvering the Cavs into this position of strength, now comes the hard part: he has to capitalize.