Led by rookie GM Koby Altman, the Cleveland Cavaliers took the league by storm during last week’s trade deadline with a flurry of power moves that have the Cavs set up for a 2018 finals run.
Cleveland gave up Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder and Dwyane Wade plus their 2018 first-round pick for Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr. and the Miami Heat’s 2018 second-rounder They got rid of a couple dudes who didn’t fit in and some guys over the hill for some freaky athletic 25 year olds, plus George Hill who is famously Greg Popovich’s favorite player ever.
The Cavs came out of this as clear winners of the trade deadline as they are now set up for success this season along with grabbing the necessary assets to endure the potential departure of Lebron James this summer.
IT and Jae Crowder never settled into Cleveland, and they let the public know that. Derrick Rose pretty much never showed up to anything while Frye and Wade were getting hit by Father Time.
The youth acquired allows Cleveland the flexibility to keep up with the high-paced styles of play from Golden State, Houston and Toronto. In the two games I saw with the new squad Cleveland was much better equipped to play up and down, switch multiple positions, and play above the rim. Essentially, they are adopting the modern style of play.
The young guys are mostly locked up through the 2019-2020 season too aside from Nance and Hood. Hood is set to earn his first big contract this offseason in restricted free agency while Nance is under team control for next season only.
Major credit to Cleveland for doing all this while restraining to give up the Brooklyn pick in any of the trades. Early in the season the Nets were balling out (relatively) and many believed that pick could end up in the 10-13 range. Luckily for Cleveland, Brooklyn started by playing like the Nets again with seven straight L’s headed into the break and are 1 game ahead of the Suns for the worst record in the NBA.
“Tankathon 2018” (http://www.tankathon.com/) will be interesting this year with 7 teams within 1.5 games of each other vying for that bottom spot. The Cavs are in line to pick up one of the young bright stars headed for the draft in DeAndre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Marvin Bagley. The trade deadline provided an opportunity for them to acquire young pieces to build a post-LeBron contender, while also making Cleveland more appealing to LeBron.
For all the chatter of how incompetent the Cavs front office has been perceived, Altman executed a last-second plan that has created some hope heading into the All-Star Break. My prediction will shock you: LeBron earns an 8th straight finals appearance and will lose 4-2 in Oracle to the Warriors.
As for what Lebron will do? No one can answer that with certainty, not even the King himself. He will play the free-agency game up until the last minute to see what teams can create cap space for him to sign his max deal. My guess is that Rockets owner Daryl Morey uses his savviness to create room for him to play alongside Chris Paul and James Harden. Look for the Spurs and Lakers to make strong pitches in July as well.