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While the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the midst of a little thing called the NBA Finals, the rest of the league, save for the Golden State Warriors, of course, are going about their business of making plans and laying the groundwork toward improving.
Such as the Charlotte Hornets, for example.
With All-Star guard Kemba Walker entering the walk year of his contract, speculation has been rampant for months about the Hornets being willing to deal the high-scoring guard.
Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes about the possibility of Walker being sent to the Cavaliers to give Cleveland another Big Three of All-Stars, joining LeBron James and Kevin Love.
Bonnell speaks specifically of a swap of the eighth overall pick in the 2018 draft, possessed by the Cavaliers, who acquired it from the Boston Celtics as part of the Kyrie Irving deal on Aug. 22. The pick was originally property of the Brooklyn Nets, who sent it to Boston.
Of course, any and every move the Cavaliers make this offseason will have the tentacles of whatever James decides to do this summer after he, as expected, declines his $35.6 million player option and becomes an unrestricted free agent for the third time in his career.
“The problem with any prediction on what the Cavaliers might do: It could be contingent on LeBron James’ intentions,” Bonnell said. “That could change with the Cavs’ performance in the NBA Finals, and beyond that result.
“Obviously, the Cavs would love for James to re-sign there rather than depart for another team (the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and Lakers are often speculated as possible destinations). The eighth pick could either be a way to improve the Cavs roster in hopes of convincing James to stay or the first step in a rebuild.”
As Bonnell notes, there are logistical roadblocks toward the Cavaliers and the Hornets agreeing to a deal involving Walker, specifically, James’ situation.
“The problem, if you’re the Cavs front office, is in the NBA calendar the draft precedes free agency (it’s the opposite in the NFL),” he said. “So, the Cavs can’t have a definitive, binding agreement with James until weeks after exercising the eighth pick.”
Walker, a two-time All-Star, would contribute more immediately than anyone the Cavaliers could select with the eighth overall pick in the draft June 21.
“I would guess Walker would be more attractive to James as a teammate than any rookie the Cavs would select No. 8,” Bonnell said. “But if such a trade was made, and then James doesn’t re-sign there, a rebuilding team would probably rather have a rookie locked to an affordable salary the next four seasons than hope to re-sign Walker in the summer of 2019, when he reaches free agency.
“That’s a lot of variables to manage, particularly when they could change by the week between now and draft night.”
In other words, the situation remains extremely fluid and it’s not going to change anytime soon, at least until James makes his intentions known.