INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — When the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics, they valued more than just the players expected to help right away.
Let us not forget, they also received hope for the future.
It came in the form a first-round draft pick, via the Brooklyn Nets — meaning it’s a pick that could very well fall into the top five of next year’s draft.
“Its an immensely valuable pick,” Cavs general manager Koby Altman told Amico Hoops after the press conference to introduce newcomers Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic on Thursday.
Valuable enough that the Cavs haven’t decided what to do with it.
Yes, they could keep it. Yes, they could use it in a trade. No, it isn’t necessary to make that call right now.
In fact, it’s fairly evident Altman and Cavs senior director of basketball operations Brock Aller (who Altman called an important part of “all of our strategies”) are perfectly content to be patient, and see what happens.
“A big thing we really valued when making the trade is the fact that it is unprotected,” Aller told Amico Hoops. “So looking at it, we have the flexibility to trade our own pick, or the pick we received (via the Nets).”
That’s right, after years of not having any first-round picks, the Cavs currently have two in the 2018 draft.
Oh, there’s also a $5.8 million trade exception that arrived courtesy of the Celtics trade. That too can be used in the right deal.
“Exactly, and if you look back, you see we take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves,” Aller said, switching his focus back to the draft.
“Take Kyle Korver for example. We traded a first-round pick for the guy, and he’s turned into a valuable piece for us. So our picks provide us opportunity going into the season, or at the trade deadline, to have a lot of assets at our disposal.”
And hey, the Cavs even got a second-rounder out of the deal (in 2020, via the Miami Heat).
“All of these picks have our scouting staff feeling motivated,” Aller said, smiling. “They’re gonna be looking at picks numbered one all the way to 60 now.”
Thomas is expected to join the Cavs this season, though it has not been made clear when. He is an All-Star, a point guard who averaged 29 points a game last season.
Crowder is ready to go, and gives the Cavs a toughness and grit that may have been lacking a little last season.
And the Cavs have high hopes for Zizic, a rookie big man with a promising set of skills.
But when it comes to finding another piece … well, it will all come down to what happens with that pick from the Nets.
“When we acquired it, we had every intention of keeping it and using it,” Altman told Amico Hoops.
“But I also think we have a responsibility to see what’s out there. I think there will be tremendous interest. We have a responsibility to listen to calls.”