In the recent trade with Boston, the Cavs received Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic. It’s a decent trade considering the proven offensive talent of Thomas, the defensive prowess of Crowder and the youth and height of Zizic. But what really makes this trade beneficial for the Cavs is the additional pick included, which belonged to the Brooklyn Nets. Yes, it is a first-round pick and yes it is unprotected. This means that if Brooklyn struggles (as expected) the Cavs can quite possibly have a top-three pick for next season.
So where do the Cavs go from here?
The logical route for the Cavs to take would be to hold onto this pick and see who is available. The 2018 draft class is looking to be loaded with athleticism and first round talent, so the Cavs will have many options. Early candidates for the #1 pick include Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr., Arizona center DeAndre Ayton, Duke forward Marvin Bagley III and international shooting guard Luka Doncic. Perhaps the most important part of having this pick is not for the rookies themselves, but rather the potential Lebron sees in the Cavs for the coming years. If LeBron likes a rookie in this draft class and has visions of playing with him, LeBron could be convinced to stay. On the other hand, if LeBron decides to leave again, Porter Jr. and Bagley III could fit as replacements at SF.
The alternative route, meanwhile, involves more work from Koby Altman calling other GMs and making trades. With a highly-valued pick such as Brooklyn’s, teams who see themselves missing the playoffs and entering rebuild mode may trade their star player for youth. Trades like this happen quite often, particularly at the trade deadline. Last season, the Pelicans traded their top rookie, Buddy Hield, and a few other assets to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for center DeMarcus Cousins. On paper, trades like these appear lopsided, but in reality, the teams who acquire the draft picks often rebuild tremendously, such as the Celtics after dealing Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets (and coincidently, the last pick involved is now with the Cavs).
The Cavs are still the best team in the Eastern Conference, but many have doubts whether they can compete with Golden State. Trading this pick for another star could be the answer to dethroning last season’s champs. Previously mentioned DeMarcus Cousins could find his way to Cleveland if the Pelicans fail to look competitive in the Western Conference and Hassan Whiteside may soon leave Miami if they cannot continue last year’s mid-season turnaround. Both players are physical, dominant centers who have incredible success on the glass and additionally Cousins was the leader in three-point makes among centers last season. The Cavs also have the option of trading their new pick for a plethora of players who can add depth to the roster, such as a trade with Denver involving Gary Harris and Kenneth Faried.
The possibilities are endless for the Cavs now and the franchise can head in several different directions that many hadn’t thought of three days ago. This is all thanks to one draft pick that is being overshadowed by two superstars swapping teams even though it is almost guaranteed to be a top-five pick. While Isaiah Thomas is an outstanding player and I hope he does great things with the Cavs, a king always has his crown and this pick is the crown jewel of the “King of the 4th Quarter” trade.
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