Latest posts by Don McCormack (see all)
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If one well-connected NBA insider is accurate, a big move — or more than one — is indeed coming for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Marc Stein, formerly of ESPN and now of the New York Times, sent out a pair of tweets Monday night saying this is just the calm before the storm, as far as the Cavaliers go.
One trusted source pulled me aside at the @nbagleague Showcase last week in suburban Toronto and insisted that the Cavs will "definitely" swing at least one deal before the Feb. 8 trade deadline. But is there really one deal out there that closes this gap?
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 16, 2018
Can they get DeAndre Jordan? Do they have a better deal looming that no one sees yet? Whatever it is Cleveland HAS to swing big to give itself every chance to convince LeBron to stay …
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 16, 2018
Assuming Stein’s sources are accurate, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise, what realistic opportunities are out there for first-year Cavaliers general mnager Koby Altman to pursue?
Let’s start by saying this — every asset eligible to be moved should be on the table for the Cavaliers.
That means, everything and everyone not named LeBron James, who has a no-trade clause in his contract.
That also means the much-talked-about unprotected 2018 first-round draft pick of the Brooklyn Nets should be put on the table as a potential bargaining chip.
End of discussion. Period.
With Brooklyn going down again Monday night, 119-104, against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the pick is increasing in value every time the Nets lose, an occurrence which is likely to happen more and more often as the season progresses.
So, back to the point, in order of preference, here are one guy’s preferred — realistic — choices, in order, to pursue (and by “realistic” it means Anthony Davis is not coming through that door):
* 1. Paul George, Oklahoma City. I’m in the minority on this, I realize (nothing knew by the way, but I digress), but there feeling here is a two-way, 3-and-D guy is more important to Cleveland in another potential matchup with Golden State than a rim protector.
As they are presently constructed, the Cavaliers are not beating the Warriors, not Christmas Day, not Monday night and not in The Finals, as our own Sam Amico wrote in his terrific column from Quicken Loans Arena on Monday night after Golden State’s 10-point win.
Know what, though? Neither are the Thunder, and they don’t even have a shot to reach The Finals.
With George headed to unrestricted free agency this summer, OKC has to know it’s Big Three of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and George looked great on paper and was fun while it lasted, but can’t get out of the West.
If it takes the Brooklyn pick and perhaps Tristan Thompson and another piece to make the deal. Yesterday, in fact.
George would give the Cavaliers a perfect combination with him and James starting in the frontcourt with Kevin Love, and with Isaiah Thomas as the starting point guard, George taking the challenge of being first in line to try and D up Kevin Durant.
It would also allow Jae Crowder to return to his role as a high-energy bench player. Crowder has been overexposed this season as a member of the starting lineup.
* 2. Everyone else.
This probably comes off as a copout, but from this corner, the only guy who moves the needle enough for Cleveland in a matchup with Golden State is George.
There are other upgrades, obviously, but from here, they would not be enough.
DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan have been mentioned in rumor after rumor, especially Jordan, of late. While both big men could offer rim protection and in Cousins’ case, plenty of offense, whom would either match up with defensively against the Warriors?
In short, the view from here is, Altman should do whatever is necessary to chase George. If it takes the much-coveted Brooklyn pick to get it done, so be it.
Face it, if James decides to bolt again in free agency this summer after he declines his player option, the ship has sailed, anyway.
Go get George, but also chase the likes of Courtney Lee of the Knicks, Wesley Matthews of the Mavericks, Kent Bazemore of the Hawks and, here’s a name which has not been mentioned — Rodney Hood of the Jazz.
Utah is traditionally one of the most active teams and Hood, a 6-foot-8 left-handed swingman is having a career season, averaging 16.5 points a game and so drastically on the cheap. Hood is making only $2,386,864 this season, or 20 percent of what the Cavaliers are paying Iman Shumpert (to deal with another injury) or, get this, not even six percent of what they are paying J.R. Smith to play The Invisible Man.
The scary part for those who follow the Cavaliers, though, is this — even if LeBron reups with the Wine and Gold next summer, will there be enough around him to even get out of the East, let alone get back to The Finals?
Meaning, the ball is squarely in the court of Altman, who as the second-youngest GM in the league, is tasked with enormous responsibilities.
Namely, keeping James happy, upgrading the roster and doing so with limited chips in which to do so.
All of which paves the way for what is sure to be daily drama leading up to the Feb. 8 trade deadline.