Without having a clear idea of what LeBron James will do in free agency this summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers are clinging tightly to their top draft pick ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
In fact, it appears the Cavs will only use the pick in a trade that would bring back the brightest of stars.
The pick in question comes from the Brooklyn Nets, via the Boston Celtics. With the way the Nets’ season is going so far, it would not be a shock if the pick fell somewhere in the top 10 of the draft.
That’s some lofty lottery status — so lofty, it seems, not even Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is deemed worthy enough for the Cavs to move the pick.
Jordan, of course, has been linked to the Cavs since Amico Hoops reported on their interest in late December.
“Their most valuable asset is the draft pick they got in the Kyrie Irving trade. They will only use that, I’m told, on a player they think can put them over the top,” NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. “One player they’ve discussed, DeAndre Jordan, does not rise to the level in Cleveland of putting that Brooklyn pick in (a trade proposal).”
That leads us to James. He can become a free agent at the end of the season. We all know James, and we all know how he loves to play the free-agency game. He loves to keep everyone guessing. That includes Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman.
“That has complicated, really since the summer, how they approach making deals, getting their team better, because they don’t know what LeBron is going to do in free agency,” Wojnarowski said.
That doesn’t mean potential talks centered on Jordan must immediately die. Don’t forget, the Cavs also have their own first-round pick.
“That’s available in almost any relatively significant deal they might do,” Wojnarowski said. “But they’re holding that Brooklyn pick for someone that may not even become available. They’re using that pick for a star.”
1. Wojnarowski also reported the Los Angeles Lakers are making guard Jordan Clarkson and forwards Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. available. You can be sure the Cavs will poke around and find out what’s going on there. Their interest in the high-flying and shot-blocking Nance Jr. is likely to be particularly strong, given the family’s ties to the organization and area.
2. Neither Derrick Rose (ankle) nor Iman Shumpert (knee) will return this week, coach Tyronn Lue told reporters. Earlier, Lue had indicated Rose could possibly play during the Cavs’ road swing, which continues Thursday vs. the Toronto Raptors and concludes Friday vs. the Indiana Pacers. Perhaps either Rose or Shumpert, or both, could play Monday at home vs. the Golden State Warriors.
3. James isn’t the Cavs’ only notable free agent at the end of the season. Isaiah Thomas is one, too. Like James, the Cavs’ are interested in retaining Thomas at the end of the season — and would be regarless of what James decides to do, according to an ESPN report. That, of course, is assuming Thomas remains healthy and able after missing the first half with a hip injury.