It’s been a little more than a year since the Cavaliers traded for Rodney Hood and George Hill, and less than four months since they traded for Alec Burks.
In historical terms, that doesn’t exactly rank with the discovery of the wheel. But when you’re talking about the Cavs’ future, those players could mean a lot.
Since the start of December, Cavs general manager Koby Altman turned Hood, Hill and Burks into two first-round picks (2019, 2021) and four second-round picks (2020, 2021, 2022, 2023), as well as Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight.
When you factor in the picks, that’s 10 potential members of the roster … for three.
Now, second-rounders aren’t really valued by the general public. But for NBA GMs, they can be major keys to wheeling and dealing, and even packaging for another player or another first-round pick.
Teams drafting near the end of the first round generally want to trade out of the first round. Teams drafting in those slots tend to be winning teams with no desire to add a rookie — or the guaranteed salary that comes with a first-rounder.
For instance, there is no way the Boston Celtics will keep all of their first-round picks (potentially up to three and no less than two) in 2019. They may not even keep one if it means landing New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis.
But rebuilding franchises such as the Cavs will want bodies for summer league in July and training camp in late September. And theoretically, the higher you draft, the better the prospect.
So Altman would be more than happy to take another late first-rounder off someone’s hands. All it sometimes takes is a couple of second-rounders. Since the start of the season, Altman has acquired six.
Could he turn them into two more first-rounders by the 2019 draft — to give the Cavs a total of four?
One Western Conference GM said “without a doubt,” it could happen.
HOPES AND DREAMS
The San Antonio Spurs have two firsts (the Toronto Raptors’ and their own). And even if the Celtics don’t land Davis, they will be shopping their picks.
Also, the Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz are making it known they prefer to spend the offseason looking to improve via free agency and trades. None will have a desire to add an unproven 19-year old, give him a guaranteed deal, and pay him to watch the veterans bust their behinds in “win-now” mode.
These are the types of teams with which Altman will be speaking on the days leading up to the draft.
Oh, it should also be noted the Cavs (12-46) will have a shot at the No. 1 overall pick. They really can dare to dream of going into next season with Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett, and whoever they pick at, say, No. 20 … and No. 23 … and No. 29.
Put four first-round prospects next to Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Chriss, Henson, etc., and next season’s Cavs could be young, athletic, energetic, exciting. They could quickly rediscover their buzz and be entirely embraced by the fans once again.
Of course, all of that is hypothetical for now.
But those hypotheticals could turn into actual possibilities and genuine hope, and all of it arrives courtesy of their general manager.