The Cavaliers: Big Decision to Make
As media day took place, one of the Cleveland Cavaliers most valuable players wasn’t in his new Nike jersey taking pictures and getting interviewed. In fact, he’s not even in the NBA yet and won’t be until June 22, 2018. The Brooklyn Nets pick is no doubt one of the most valuable assets the Cavs currently own but many question how valuable this pick is to the Cavaliers in particular as they are trying to compete for a championship now. With questions arising on what they should do with the pick, one may look at the team they acquired it from, the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have been in possession of Nets’ picks since 2013, and have selected 17th, 3rd, and 3rd in the 2014, 2016, and 2017 NBA drafts. Even with these high selections, neither of the players they chose have had a significant impact. James Young, their 2014 selection, has only averaged 8.4 minutes per game in his three-year career. While Jaylen Brown, their 2016 selection, only averaged 17.2 minutes per game last season. With their newest rookie, Jayson Tatum, yet to see an NBA floor, it is a legitimate concern as to whether or not Tatum and Brown can develop to their full potential behind veterans. However it begs the question what should the Cavs do with their pick?
One option the Cavs have is they can trade it. Unfortunately for them they missed out on the black Friday all-star sale where you could’ve received your favorite player for pennies on the dollar. Demarcus’ cousin, Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and Carmelo Anthony have all already been traded and with some of the returns these all stars have brought, I think GMs might favor marriage counseling instead of testing trade waters. Albeit anything can happen in the NBA, which means any star can become available at any time. Another thing the Cavs can do is use the pick and some of their unwanted contracts to poach valuable role players off of rebuilding teams that can support Isaiah Thomas, LeBron James, and Kevin Love. For example, trading pick to the Chicago Bulls for a package centered on Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday while also dumping Iman Shumpert’s $11 million per year contract. Getting rid of a bad contract while simultaneously gaining two or more good defensive role players is certainly an enticing option for the Cavs. However, is it worth a potential top 5 pick? It probably isn’t, but with the decline of competition in the East it’s possible the Nets make the playoffs meaning the value of the pick lowers dramatically.
They can also decide to keep the pick. This draft is already being heralded as a potential all-time great draft, a sentiment I vehemently disagree with, but nonetheless there’s value to be had in this upcoming draft especially for a small market team who could soon lose the best player in the league. Being able to have the 6-10 Small Forward Michael Porter Jr., or the 6-11 Power Forward Marvin Bagley, or the 6-8 swingman Luka Doncic on the heels of losing LeBron James would soften the blow of losing him. However, there’s no guarantee that they’ll land a top 3 pick nor even draft a superstar. Between when LeBron left in 2010 and when he returned in 2014, the Cavs had four top five draft picks, three of which were number one. They selected Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. Only Irving has made an all-star team, none are currently on the team, and Bennett is considered one of the biggest bust of all-time. It’s safe to say the Cavs don’t have a great history in scouting and drafting, which isn’t encouraging regardless of what pick they have.
All in all, I think the Cavs should be patient with their decision and watch how things unfold for other teams, especially the Nets. However, I also think they should be leaning toward trading the pick because they have LeBron James and they will never have a chance at another LeBron James meaning they should do everything in their power to keep him.