The NBA draft is tonight.
It’s finally here. We made it. After months of speculation, the Cavs will actually draft someone with the first overall pick.
Or they’ll be the first team in two decades to trade the first pick.
You know, either or.
No matter what Dan Gilbert, David Griffin and new coach David Blatt ultimately decide to do, at least we’ll begin to get a sense of their vision for the franchise. We’ll finally know something.
And thank God, quite frankly. All this speculation is killing me. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am exhausted. It takes a lot of energy to not get your hopes up for the lottery, fall in and out of love with Joel Embiid, talk yourself into Andrew Wiggins, double check to make sure that “Arron Afflalo” isn’t a made-up name, listen to a billion draft podcasts, try not get fooled by fake-Sam Amico twitter accounts, all while monitoring LeBron’s immediate family on various social media platforms1.
It is finally Thursday. The Cavs have a basketball coach and draft is tonight. I’d like to think all the crazy rumors will end when Adam Silver announces the first pick, but given that, well, LeBron exists, the insanity is just getting started.
The season may be over, but the huh is ongoing.
I was told same last night. RT @chadfordinsider: Sources: Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wants Wiggins at No. 1. Cavs front office wants Parker.
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) June 25, 2014
Nothing comes easy for our Cavs, does it? After finishing one of the more bizarre seasons in recent memory, the lottery gods smiled upon them one
more last time and gifted them the number one pick in what has been touted as the most loaded draft in over a decade. Kansas center Joel Embiid seemed to be emerging as the consensus top pick and by all accounts the Cavs were blown away by Embiid’s workout. But a few days later, news broke that Embiid had a foot injury (apparently discovered by Cavalier doctors) and the draft descended into chaos.
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) June 25, 2014
From what I can tell, the only consensus seems to be that there’s no consensus. Everything is in play. Chad Ford says the Cavs are divided between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker (hell, Jay Bilas thinks they’ll go Embiid). CBS mock drafts still have the Cavs selecting Parker, even though he reportedly showed up overweight to their workout and stated publicly he expects to go to the Bucks. The Cavs have had talks with the Sixers, Magic, Jazz and Celtics about trading the pick. They’ve called the Wolves about Kevin Love and they’re even been kicking around the idea of bringing both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to Cleveland. And finally, they’re scrambling to meet Australia’s Dante Exum for a last minute workout because of course they are.
It’s not an understatement to say that this is a franchise altering summer. The Cavs have a staggering number of paths they could take and I want to examine a few of them.
Scenario 1: Just Draft Andrew Wiggins, You Big Dummy.
I believe this to be the most likely outcome. The Cavs should simply take the best player available, the guy with the crazy athleticism who has been the consensus number one pick since he was a senior in high school. The Cavs need to capitalize on their 1.7% lotto luck and draft the guy most likely to be a two-way All-Star. You need an elite wing to compete in the NBA and, assuming you aren’t signing LeBron, this is your one shot at getting him. That Wiggins’ athleticism stands out against other elite athletes is a Big Deal.
The basketball gods can’t spell it out to you any clearer. Embiid’s talent is tantalizing, but he has a bad back and a screw in his foot. You cannot under any circumstance take him with the top pick. Jabari Parker has an NBA ready offensive game but is an indifferent defender. Plus, he showed up to his Cavalier workout overweight, leading many to wonder if he tanked the workout on purpose.
While it’s odd to think a guy would purposefully ruin his chances at being the top pick, Parker has been doing everything short of wearing Green Bay Packer gear to make it known that he prefers the Bucks. Meanwhile, Wiggins says he wants to come here and that he’s friends with your previous top pick, Anthony Bennett.
Wiggins has been the consensus best player in his class since high schoool. Don’t overthink it.
Scenario 2: Cavs Trade Down With Orlando/Philly/Utah
But say the Cavs really don’t love love love LOVE Wiggins or Parker. What then? What if they’re not sold on the consensus top two picks?
But you know who the Cavs did love? Joel Embiid. By all accounts, Embiid killed his workout with the Cavaliers. If the Cavs’ doctors don’t think Embiid’s injuries will be longterm issues, I imagine it’d be pretty tempting for the Cavs to trade down, add a veteran player and an additional pick in the process while still getting their guy. I know this is a risk that some, like Kirk, aren’t willing to take but I’d be super tempted if I were the Cavs.
My (reheated) hot take on Wiggins is that we wouldn't be talking up his defense so much if he was the next superstar wing
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) June 25, 2014
Would he be drafted top 3 without last year's hype? RT @WellYeahTono your expectations for wiggins were probably lebron like which hurts him
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) June 25, 2014
I think the Cavs are holding out for Philly to make them a Godfather offer. Philly has been in love with Wiggins for awhile and if they offer the Cavs something like 3, 10, and Young (or maybe something involving Nerlens Noel?) the Cavs might be blown away. The Sixers been rumored to be interested in Embiid at 3, but I feel that’s a smokescreen to get the Cavs to bite (Philly will really go Noel-Embiid in consecutive drafts? I doubt it).
Sources: If Bucks, Magic, Jazz or Celtics move up to No. 1 — Jabari is their man. If Sixers move up it’s for Wiggins.
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 26, 2014
I have to think that Embiid is the reason the Cavs are trading down. They were clearly high him but they have to know they absolutely cannot draft him at 1 (which is what ESPN’s Jalen Rose still advocates). They can’t afford to draft Embiid and then get nothing if he turns out to be injured longterm. But if they take him at 3… with an additional pick and a vet… it makes sense. I can understand that argument.
If the Cavs take Jabari Parker, I could see a trade happening. If Cavs take Andrew Wiggins, then likely keeping the pick.
— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) June 26, 2014
Utah’s offer was the 5th and 23rd picks, Derek Favors and Alec Burks. Thus far, Philly has only offered the 3rd pick and Thad Young (Philly has been reluctant to add the 10th pick). The Cavs rejected Orlando’s offered of 4, 12 and Arron Afflalo, shocking Bill Simmons. FSO’s Sam Amico tweeted that the Cavs have asked Orlando about Victor Oladipo2, which, I admit is pretty ballsy. Although it’s not nearly as ballsy as asking Milwaukee about trading 1 for 2 and Greek Freak.
I have to admit I’m a bit puzzled by these last minute Dante Exum workouts. Griffin would cause a riot if he picked Exum at 1, so you’d think he gotta be a possible target in trade. Say the Cavs get cold feet about Embiid’s medical history (or if Philly takes Embiid at 3 or he maneuvers himself to the Lakers) but the Cavs get absolutely floored by a trade offer (like Orlando throws in Oladipo with 4 and 12 for some dumb reason), Exum could very well be the non-Embiid replacement pick in that situation.
There’s a decent chance the Cavs will be picking for someone else when their pick is announced. If they make a trade, it’s going to happen during the draft, not before. Fans might want to wait a few picks before getting overly excited about the selection. If there’s a trade, the pick might not be wearing this awesome blue and orange hat for long.
I gotta wonder if the Cavs’ desire for a second first round pick is to pick up another asset for a blockbuster move down the road. David Blatt sounds like he expects to win, and I’m not entirely sure that means adding two more rookies. Which leads me to…
Scenario 3: Win Now, No More Rookies. Trade The Pick For Kevin Love.
Sure, Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that talks between the Cavs and Wolves are dead. Love said he doesn’t want to re-sign in Cleveland and the Cavs don’t really want to part with the No. 1 pick for a rental.
This makes sense. This is the Cavs one chance to add a two-way All-Star next to Irving and they can’t throw it away for one year of a one-way All-Star. They just can’t. You’d think appearing in one of Kyrie’s Pepsi MAX commercials would give the Cavs an edge. But no!
But what if they trade down with Philly or Orlando? They’ll take whoever they want (Exum? Embiid?) and then still have a late lotto pick to give the Wolves (along with whatever non-Irving pieces Flip Saunders desires). Sure, Love said he won’t re-sign, but if you pair him with Irving and Embiid… that’s gotta be pretty attractive, right? Right?
Trading for Love without a guarantee he’ll stay is a stupid risky move. It’s a little bit more palpable if you can figure out a way to get him here without giving up the top pick. It would still suck, but at least you wouldn’t have missed out on seven years of Wiggins or Embiid or Parker for twelve months of Love.
There’s only one way that trading the first overall pick for Kevin Love makes sense. Which brings me to, as always, LeBron.
Scenario 4: Go All-In On The LeBron Push.
I find it odd that Cavs fans are actively dreading rumors about the best basketball player coming to play for our team.
— Boosh (@HoopsBoosh) June 17, 2014
On the day the Cavs’ season ended, if you would’ve asked me if the Cavs would be a realistic destination for LeBron this summer, I’d have laughed in your face. The Cavs were a mess and not anywhere close to contention. There was no way an in-his-prime LeBron would leave two All-Stars to go babysit a bunch of kids through their playoff growing pains. The Cavs might’ve had a chance, but their abysmal season ruined it. They needed to be farther along in their development. Or just be not terrible.
At the end of the 2013-14 regular season, if you were devising the perfect scenario for LeBron to return this summer, it would’ve started much like this:
- Re-fire Mike Brown
- Win the draft lottery
- Miami gets stomped in the Finals
That doesn’t mean his bags are packed and he’s on his way. But if any one of those three things don’t happen, there’s not any chance LeBron comes back.
If you’re into reading the tea leaves and happen to be a severe alcoholic, if you squint juuuust right, you can see a scenario where the Return might kinda sorta make sense3.
gotta say, my industry has done a great job of cranking out content from bron opting out, which we all knew he’d do. we’re good at this.
— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) June 24, 2014
First, you have the fact that LeBron opted out of his contract with the Heat before the draft. That’s a pretty big deal. Seems like he’s making sure folks can plan their draft strategy accordingly. Also, he announced his opting out separately from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, showing they may not be a package deal this time around. Plus, there’s the Instagram posts, the rumored Floyd Mayweather bet, all the LeBron/Manziel stuff and hey, did you know LeBron’s SVSM teammate Romeo Travis played for David Blatt in Europe? It’s a conspiracy, man.
Brian Windhorst reports that the Cavs have been looking for ways to add both LeBron and Melo. This seems unlikely, but obviously they’re kicking around the idea of LeBron returning.
The problem for the Cavs is as follows: I don’t think they get LeBron to come back without trading for Kevin Love. And Kevin Love won’t commit to re-signing, so they can’t risk trading the first pick for him. But if they do trade for Love and then LeBron comes back (even if it’s only on a three-year deal), it’s hard to imagine Love walking away from that squad4.
If the Cavs can do it while keeping the 1st pick (or 3rd or 4th, if they deal with Philly or Orlando), I’m all for adding Love, rental or no. I’m on record saying I wish in 2010, that instead of trading for Antawn Jamison, the Cavs would’ve traded for Bosh despite his insistence he wouldn’t re-sign in Cleveland. If you add Bosh to that 60-win Cavalier roster and he and LeBron both walk away, then what can ya do? You’re no worse off than you were anyways (better, in some ways, as we wouldn’t have had to watch Jamison not play defense for two years) but at least you took a real shot and made Bosh and LeBron walk away from a 60-win team (and their Bird rights).
It’s dicier this time around, as LeBron isn’t already here. Trading for Love means you’re both betting that 1) LeBron would be willing to cash Dan Gilbert’s paychecks and 2) Love still wouldn’t walk anyways. But if you honestly think that trading for Love nets you LeBron… it’d be pretty nuts for a guy like Love to walk away from a team with LeBron and Kyrie Irving, crappy winters or no (especially in the East).
Do the Cavs even have enough to trade for Love without giving up the top pick? Maaaybeee… but probably not.
They do have three former lottery picks in Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett that they could flip. They have Miami’s 2015 first (protected 1-10 in 2015 and 2016, but becomes unprotected in 2017) and the Grizzlies’ 2015 first round if it lands between 5 and 15.
If the Cavs trade down with Philly or Orlando and pick up either 10 or 12, they could put together an offer that included a first this year and three 2015 firsts (in addition to a pick of Dion, Tristan and Bennett). Is that better than whatever Boston’s offers? Better than Golden State’s deal sans Klay Thompson? But if you’re looking a “kitchen sink” type offer that doesn’t include trading out of the top of the lotto, that’s it.
This is all crazy and, in the end, probably not enough to land Love. And not landing Love may mean not getting LeBron. And not getting LeBron might mean we’d done with him for at least twelve whole months.
But we know Dan Gilbert dreams big (they actually asked for Giannis?!) and that the Cavs are viewed as a bit of a wild card. I can’t really blame the Cavs for trying. I guess if you have a >0% chance at landing the best player on Earth, you’re gonna pursue that chance.
But I wouldn’t get too worked up about LeBron and/or Love. Grantland’s Zach Lowe is one of the most respected and level-headed NBA writers out there and our Cavs didn’t come up in either his Kevin Love or his LeBron breakdowns. That should tell us something.
Scenario 5: Some Crazy Deal That Isn’t Even On Our Radar
It’s always the deals that don’t leak that are the ones that get done. Sure, the Cavs are in talks with Philly and Orlando, but there could be (and should be!) trade talks that we’re not even be aware of.
Interesting note to Dion Waiters talk: Source close to Waiters tells @FOXSportsOH that Waiters thinks he or Kyrie Irving will be traded.
— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 24, 2014
The Cavs spoke with the Nets about a Jarrett Jack for Marcus Thorton swap, which would mean that Dion is probably correct. Pre-lotto win, they may have balked at adding both Tristan and Dion to a deal, but now that they’re guaranteed a shot at Wiggins or Parker, the Cavs can get more creative with their trade packages.
@tompestak draft Wiggins. Trade Dion for 7 and Nash, draft Exum. Go all in on Australia and Canada.
— Ben Cox (@WFNYBen) June 25, 2014
What’s my preference? I think I want them to stand pat and draft Andrew Wiggins. But man, I’m not in love with him like I figured I’d be. The questions about his toughness and competitiveness (not to mention struggling to finish inside and in traffic) scare the crap out of me. But he projects to be a two-way All-Star wing and those guys are pretty effing valuable. But I started this whole crazy process by falling hard for Embiid. Now that he’s gone, I’m a bit lost. And I fully recognize how ridiculous that sounds, given that this stupid team should’ve been selecting at 9. But that’s why, depending on the deal (of course), I can be talked into trading down.
[Related: NBA Draft: Joe Gilbert's Top Five Centers]
Build around Kyrie and the pick. I’ve heard a lot of chatter, both on twitter and in real life, about whether or not Wiggins or Parker is a good fit next to Waiters/Thompson/Bennett. Stop. The Cavs shouldn’t be basing this pick on whether they fit around someone like Bennett or Zeller. Pick the guy you think fits best with your All-Star point guard and move the other guys if you think they’re not working. That being said, it would be kinda fun to have a team full of Canadians.
On head coach David Blatt: Like most of you, I really love the hire. Everything I’ve read about Blatt has been awesome. And after hearing Blatt’s Wednesday afternoon press conference, I’m even more pumped (not to mention he’s already familiar with Sergey Karasev). The man just oozes energy. Blatt seems really smart and confident in his abilities. Plus, he’s coached in high pressure situations like Russia and Israel, so you’d like to think he’ll be able to handle working for Dan Gilbert.
I am just a tad concerned about them throwing a bunch of money at Tyronn Lue. Lue seems like a fine candidate and he’s been sitting next to Doc Rivers for the last few seasons, so he’s certainly qualified. And a part of me really likes the idea that the Cavs managed to get both of their finalists for the HC job. But that’s the thing… whose choice was it to hire Lue? Am I supposed to believe that was Blatt’s decision? Blatt chose the other HC finalist for his lead assistant?
It’s most likely not a huge deal, but I have to imagine that the idea of Lue didn’t originate from Blatt. Again, it could be nothing, but I’m just wary of anything that looks like meddling at this point. Gilbert doesn’t have the greatest track record here.
This isn’t the final roster. As fun as it’d be to see a lineup of Kyrie-Dion-Bennett-Tristan and either Wiggins or Parker, I highly doubt we’ll see the five lottery picks share the floor. The Cavaliers simply have so many options, it’s hard to imagine that at least one of Waiters, Thompson, or Bennett doesn’t get moved before the season. The Cavs also have the option to work out a sign-and-trade with small forward Luol Deng, who seems to be drawing interest from the Mavericks (Dallas, who just reacquired Tyson Chandler, is also a player in the LeBron/Melo sweepstakes).
Hear me speak words aloud. I recently guested on the More Than a Fan podcast with Josh Flagner, talking Blatt and the Cavs draft. I also sat down with Craig and talked Cavs and movies on the WFNY pod.
Wanna see grown men cry while tweeting? Last year, some of us from #CavsTwitter got together and watched the NBA draft at the Quaker Steak in Lakewood. Given the stunning success of that night, we’ve decided to run it back. So if you’re on the West Side, or feel like driving to the West Side, come out to Quaker Steak in Lakewood and watch the draft with some of the writers from WFNY, Fear the Sword and a bunch of hardcore Cavs nerds.
- I never though I’d be in a situation where I’m talking myself into Andrew Wiggins, but here we are [↩]
- because of course this franchise would trade the top pick for a player they could’ve drafted last year [↩]
- I’d be down, personally. I want to win. And I want the LeBron stuff to be over. It’s gotten tedious. I think it’d be healthy for the state of Cleveland sports fandom if we put the LeBron stuff behind us. It’d just be nice. Plus, the dude is really effing good at basketball. [↩]
- I mean, of course Love doesn’t want to sign here with this crappy team. But what if the Cavs, you know, weren’t crappy? I imagine being on a bad team in Cleveland would be pretty miserable, but I’d life wouldn’t suck if you were winning. If nothing else, could be worth it just to get Love to pick up his 2015-16 player option [↩]