The Cleveland Cavaliers have been underachievers the entire season. Cleveland currently holds the third seed in East with a record of 30-21. For a team that has LeBron James, Kevin Love, and other complementary players, that record frankly isn’t good enough. The Cavs problems start on the defensive end of the floor where they are allowing 114.3 points per game to top 7 teams in each conference. Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised because LeBron wanted all of his friends on the roster creating horrible problems within the locker room.
The Cavs struggles seem to stem from chemistry issues. The team has six losses by more than 20 points. Players seem to be frustrated with the fact that Isaiah Thomas really stinks compared to Kyrie Irving. James, of course, ran Irving out of town for a thousands of reasons that include running a garbage Isolation offense, making Kyrie Irving play off the ball and stand in the corner despite the fact that he is a point guard, running head coaches out of town to make sure a puppet (Tyronne Lue) is in charge, constantly blaming others when things don’t go right, making horrible personnel decisions, and trying to trade him for Chris Paul.
To no surprise, James is now crying again that he needs more help. Despite sitting nearly 35 million over the salary cap and deep into the luxury tax, James is still crying that he needs more help. Of course, ownership has given him essentially everything James has desired in Cleveland. The organization has overpaid the likes of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Triston Thompson to put the Cavs in cap purgatory. The latter portion of the bench also included many of LeBron’s “friends” limiting flexibility to fill out a roster properly (Jeff Green, Derrick Rose, Channing Frye). Remember when LeBron needed to have James Jones on the roster despite the fact that he did literally nothing?
Now that Cavs are tasked with trying to appease James again and may be forced to do the unthinkable, trade the only quality asset they received in the Kyrie Irving trade, the Brooklyn Nets unprotected 2018 first round pick. Brooklyn has been better than expected and would hold the 8th pick in the draft if it was held today. Regardless, the Cavs may be forced to make a trade or two to not only fix the deficiencies on the roster but also to get LeBron to try again. What are five trades the Cavaliers could consider in order to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year?
5. Cavs trade Cedi Osman and Cavaliers 2018 first round pick to Jazz for Rodney Hood.
LeBron is always crying that he needs shootings on the perimeter so he can dish it out when opposing defenders crash the lane. Hood is a reliable shooter and a player who is firmly on the trade block. Hood is shooting 38.7 percent from 3-point range but is scheduled to hit restricted free agency after the season. Utah is wary of paying Hood in free agency so they have been dangling him in trade talks. Hood has averaged 16.4 points per game with the Jazz this season.
There’s no question that the Cavs need another shooting guard. J.R. Smith has been a nightmare on both ends and might need to retire sooner rather than later. Hood would represent an upgrade on both ends of the floor over Smith. Parting with a young player like Osman who doesn’t really play in Cleveland may entice Utah to part with Hood. The late first round pick that the Cavs own would likely get the deal done. This type of move would likely be a sort of happy medium to appease LeBron. This gives the Cavs an upgrade in the backcourt without tearing into their best asset.
4. Cavs trade Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, and a 2nd round pick to Kings for George Hill.
This trade has been in the tea leaves for quite some time but has failed to materialize thus far. This trade actually makes a lot of sense for both parties involved. Sacramento owes Hill 57 million over three seasons on a contract the two sides agreed to this summer. The third year of the deal is partially guaranteed but the point of moving Hill would be to clear long-term money off the books. Asking the question of why Sacramento signed Hill to the albatross contract is the story for a different day.
In this deal, Sacramento would take on the expiring contract of Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert who would likely exercise his player option of $10 million next season. The 2nd round pick would be a throw-in because Hill is clearly the best player in the deal.
For Cleveland, adding Hill makes a lot of sense while clearing two players off the roster who don’t contribute a whole lot. The status of Isaiah Thomas is a huge red flag moving forward and frankly has been pretty terrible during his time with Cleveland. Thomas has shot 36.4 percent from the field and is undeniably a shell of himself without Brad Stevens. Hill would give the Cavs an insurance policy in case Thomas still hasn’t remembered how to play when the playoffs roll around. Notice how I didn’t mention Derrick Rose contributing?
Hill gives Cleveland a three-and-D option at the point guard position. Cleveland frankly does not have a reliable defender in the backcourt. The Kings have been equally bad on the defensive end but Hill does have a reputation for being a plus defender. Hill has averaged 10.2 points, 2.7 assists, and 2.7 rebounds per game.
3. Cavs trade Channing Frye and Isaiah Thomas to Lakers for Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson.
This trade also realistically benefits both teams. For the Cavs, they realistically upgrade both the point guard and power forward position. Yes, Jordan Clarkson is better than Isaiah Thomas right now on both ends of the floor. Randle also gives the Cavs a young big man who can do damage down low. Randle can also run the floor a whole lot better than just about anyone on Cleveland’s roster.
Isaiah Thomas is shooting 35 percent from the floor in Cleveland and is a total ball hog. Clarkson is scoring 14.7 points per game and is much more efficient shooting 46 percent from the floor. With the Cavs being one of the worst defensive teams prior to even when Thomas suited up for the Cavs, Thomas has clearly shown he is unplayable on the defensive end as well. Frye really hasn’t played much. Randle has been productive scoring 14 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Let’s be honest, Thomas’ real value with the Cavs comes as an expiring contract.
For the Lakers, they might need a pick included in this deal to just send away Randle and Clarkson for expiring deals. The main motivation for Los Angeles would be shedding the remaining three years of Clarkson’s contract for free agency to clear two max cap slots to add two superstars this upcoming summer. The Lakers will also have to let Randle walk as a restricted free agent to add that kind of a superstar in free agency. Moving Clarkson and Randle is just part of the reality for the Lakers to be competitive again. The oddity would be that maybe this deal helps the Lakers land LeBron away from the Cavs.
2. Cavs trade Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Isaiah Thomas, and Brooklyn Nets 2018 first round pick to Hornets for Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams, and Julyan Stone.
Would the Cavs move the Nets pick to land Kemba Walker? Landing Walker and Jae Crowder in the aggregate for Kyrie Irving sounds a hell of a lot better than the bum Isaiah Thomas. Walker gives the Cavs a real point guard option to pair with LeBron who can score off the ball a lot like Irving did in Cleveland. Walker also fits the criteria of being under team control for multiple years. Walker’s deal is a bargain of sorts with 2 years and 24 million remaining.
The Hornets have made no secret about wanting to start a rebuild. Getting the Nets pick seems like a farish return for Charlotte. The Hornets also get to shed the unwanted Marvin Williams contract as well shedding bad money off the books. Williams makes $13 million a year over three seasons.
Walker is scoring 22.7 points and 5.9 assists per game. LeBron needs a closer. Walker is exactly that and has made a number of big shots during his college career at UConn winning the National Championship almost by himself. Walker is also an East coast guy from New York and may actually be willing to stay in Cleveland.
1 Cavs trade Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, and Brooklyn Nets first round pick to Trail Blazers for C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic.
Kevin Love has never been a great fit with LeBron. Love has had to change his game completely and is a shell of himself. Again, why LeBron loves running his garbage Isolation offense and sticks Kevin Love on the 3-point line has really never made sense. This trade gives the Cavs a real shooting guard who can flat out score. Both players sort of cancel out as below average defenders but there is clear motivation to get the right piece around LeBron.
Portland is $3 million over the luxury tax and really needs to make a move. Can they really pay Nurkic this summer while they’re already over the tax? Trading McCollum also seems crazy but it’s clearly time to break up that backcourt. Damien Lillard just doesn’t pair well with the former Lehigh alum. Portland has really screwed up their cap but bringing home town Kevin Love to Portland would be great for the franchise. Love, yes would love, to play for the Blazers. Getting the Nets pick and an All-Star player like Love might make a lot of sense.
McCollum and Nurkic give the Cavs a big boost. They also fit the criteria of being controllable for multiple years. McCollum is under team control for four more years and Nurkic is restricted. Does it make them competitive in the Finals? Maybe not, but if one thing is for sure, LeBron can’t lose to Kyrie and the Celtics. Can you imagine LeBron running away from Kyrie? Regardless, the Cavs likely need to make a major trade rather than one that doesn’t move the needle.