NBA Analysis: Cleveland Cavaliers Trade, Free Agency Rumors


Trade rumors are a fickle thing, you know. On one hand, 99% of them are ridiculously false. On the other hand, if rumors involving one team keep coming up, it might mean that said team is in fact looking to make a move.

That seems to be the case with the Cavs right now, as there have been plenty of rumors surrounding what they plan to do with the #4 overall pick in the draft. Some of the rumors have no basis in reality, but since they keep coming up it leads me to believe that the team is considering trading it.

And make no mistake about it, trading that pick would be a bad idea.

The biggest rumor that made the rounds involved Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies. The alleged deal would have sent the #4 overall pick to Memphis as well as use up the Cavs trade exception, and Gay would have made his way to Cleveland. Memphis reportedly has no interest in trading Gay, and the trade was rejected. Which is most definitely for the better. Don’t get me wrong, the Cavs would have been a much better team next year with Gay at SF and Kyrie Irving at PG, not to mention a healthy Anderson Varejao, Antawn Jamison, and Baron Davis. Thats a pretty decent team that would likely make the playoffs.

However, a core of Irving/Gay/Varejao is nowhere near good enough to do any damage in the playoffs. They would never be better than Chicago or Miami, and probably would have a difficult time beating Orlando, Atlanta, or New York in a playoff series. The Cavs would be stuck losing in the 1st round of the playoffs for years to come and because of the long, prohibitive contracts of Gay and Varejao they would have to hope Irving turns into Chris Paul for them to have any chance whatsoever to make the Conference Finals, let alone the NBA Finals. It would not be a good place to be. Rudy Gay does fill the most glaring need on the Cavs, but winning teams do not pay really good players like elite players, and Gay will be making the max for the next 5 years. Nevermind the fact that Memphis seemed to play just fine without Gay shooting 16 times a game.

Another trade rumor that ended up having no truth involved the Utah Jazz. It reportedly sent the Cavs two 1st round picks to Salt Lake City for the #3 overall pick, Paul Milsap, and Gordan Hayward. But just because this rumor has been shot down doesn’t mean the Cavs haven’t spoken with the Jazz at all about their picks. While I would be very shocked if the Cavs traded their top pick, Utah definitely should have an interest in Kyrie Irving and probably would make an offer.

What the Cavs should be doing at this point is not focusing on trading the #4 overall pick – or any pick for that matter – but deciding who to take with that pick. Because any trade they make will likely have a negative impact on their rebuilding.  The plan for the Cavs is simple: they have to suck next year. Adding veterans like Rudy Gay or Paul Milsap makes the Cavs just good enough to not suck. And while sucking might seem like it would be counterintuitive to building a winner, next years draft is absolutely stacked and a top 10 pick next year is just as valuable as a top 3 pick this year. Consider –  next years 10th rated player according to Draft Express is the incoming Duke Blue Devil Austin Rivers. If he were somehow in this years draft, he would probably be the 3rd overall pick to Utah. It is imperative that the Cavs find a way into the lottery next year.

What worries me in all of this is Dan Gilbert. Yes, he has done a lot of great things for the Cavs and the city of Cleveland, and he is determined to bring a winner to Cleveland. But does he have the patience to wait it out and do it the right way, especially if the Heat win it all this year? I’m not so positive that he does.

The thing is, the Cavs are in a great position for their rebuild right now. If they can find a way to trade Baron Davis or Antawn Jamison in order to free up more playing time for younger players, they will be in an even better spot. But they are going to add their PG of the future who will specialize in making other players better. Irving will be much more of a pure PG than Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook, which is what you want if you are starting from scratch. Plus, they will in all likelihood add a high-upside European big, be it Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas. Then next year they will probably have a top-10 pick, and be in a position to add a much needed wing. Next year they also will shed the salaries of Davis and Jamison if they aren’t traded. The Cavs will have their core, cap flexibility, and the fat wallet of Dan Gilbert.

All Gilbert has to do is exercise patience.

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