Latest posts by Don McCormack (see all)
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When ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news Friday that the Charlotte Hornets have made All-Star point guard Kemba Walker available, the NBA’s trade season became much more intriguing.
One of Wojnarowski’s colleagues at ESPN, Kevin Pelton, believes the Cleveland Cavaliers could offer the best possible package to Charlotte in exchange for the high-scoring Walker.
Pelton writes the Cavaliers could ship two-time All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, veteran big man Channing Frye and the much-coveted unprotected 2018 draft pick of the Brooklyn Nets to Charlotte in exchange for Walker and center Johnny O’Bryant.
Yes, I wrote Thursday that the Cavaliers should hold on to the Nets’ pick rather than trading it to improve their championship hopes this season. But that was under the assumption that DeAndre Jordan was the best player likely to be traded by the deadline, and Walker’s availability would make things more interesting.
Pelton then explained why the deal would benefit the Cavaliers.
Dealing for Walker would be a hedge against the possibility that Thomas doesn’t get back to All-Star level after his hip injury. Walker’s also a little bigger, which makes him a better defensive option against the NBA’s best teams. And Cleveland would be buying another year of team control. While Thomas will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, the Cavaliers either would be getting cost certainty with Walker making $12 million in the final season of his contract or have the ability to trade him if LeBron James departs via free agency.
Pelton believes the Brooklyn pick, acquired by the Cavaliers along with Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Miami’s 2020 second-round draft pick in exchange for four-time All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving on Aug. 22.
From Charlotte’s perspective, the Brooklyn pick is the best they’re likely to get offered for Walker, and the Hornets might also be able to flip Thomas for another expiring contract before the deadline and get additional picks. However, making this move would prevent them from gaining additional cap relief.
The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 8.