25 questions heading into the second half of the NBA season

1. Should the Pelicans trade Anthony this season or this summer?

The Pelicans are in 12th place in the Western Conference, and it’s time they start thinking about trading Anthony Davis. If they deal him this season, the Lakers might be willing to part with three of their four young assets (Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart). The 76ers might be willing to dangle Ben Simmons, too. Heck, the Warriors could even offer Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

If New Orleans waits until the summer, the Celtics will be eligible to acquire Davis (a provision in the CBA is preventing them from doing so this season without including Kyrie Irving) and could offer a package including Jaylen Brown and their war chest of valuable future draft picks. The Knicks could offer their unprotected 2019 first-round draft pick and Kevin Knox. The only downside to waiting for the summer is that if Davis demands a deal to a specific team, the Pelicans lose all their leverage. Lots to consider in the Big Easy, and none of it is all that promising.

2. What does the Lakers starting lineup look like this spring?

The best-case scenario includes LeBron James and Anthony Davis. A lineup with those two could win the title. The next best scenario probably involves James, Bradley Beal and whichever two youngsters remain. This lineup could hang with any team in the league but is probably an underdog in the Conference Finals and Finals. The worst-case scenario would be if they make no major moves at the deadline because their current lineup likely has a Conference Finals ceiling and it’d be malpractice to waste a year of LeBron’s prime, like when the team has a number of trade chips.

3. Which teams mortgage their futures at the deadline?

Out West, the Pelicans are sure to be in the middle of everything, as they hold the crown jewel in Anthony Davis. Yet there’s a chance the Pelicans hold onto Davis and make a big trade of their own — we know they were in the mix for Jimmy Butler earlier this year. Everyone knows that the Rockets and Lakers will be looking for deals too. The Kings are desperate to make the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, so keep an eye on them as well.

Out East, any of the top five teams could justify pushing their chips in and try to capitalize on the Warriors’ perceived vulnerability. Also, keep an eye out for Pat Riley and the Miami Heat — they’ve straightened things out as of late and have been trying to land a blue-chipper ever since LeBron James left.

4. Does Michael Jordan deal Kemba Walker?

The conundrum of Kemba Walker: He means everything to the Hornets and wants to remain the face of the franchise, yet they can’t compete with him on their roster. He’s not quite elite enough to carry Charlotte deep into the playoffs, yet he’s too good to not carry the team to a .500 record. With no cap room (maybe you shouldn’t have maxed out Nic Batum, MJ!) and hardly any trade assets (maybe you shouldn’t have turned down four first-round picks to draft Frank Kaminsky, MJ!), Michael Jordan needs to seriously consider trading Walker for some future draft picks and/or cap relief if the Hornets ever want to quit toiling in mediocrity.

5. What do the Blazers do at the trade deadline?

The Blazers are having another solid season. They’re 25-17 and have an average offense and defense. They won’t miss the playoffs, but they probably won’t make it out of the first round if they don’t make a move at the trade deadline. Is this the year they break up the Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum backcourt? How does the passing of owner Paul Allen impact the team’s previously unwavering loyalty to its dynamic backcourt? Would the Wizards ever consider a Bradley Beal for McCollum plus an unprotected 2020 first-rounder swap?

6. Which teams should blow it up at the deadline?

A couple of teams that are teetering on the brink of falling out of playoff contention should seriously consider blowing up their rosters by trading away assets for future draft picks and high-upside prospects. The most obvious team is the Washington Wizards. At 17-25, no John Wall for the rest of the year and no cap space, the team should absolutely be looking to trade Otto Porter and his massive contract, Markieff Morris and his abrasive attitude and even Bradley Beal if a team like the Lakers offers multiple prospects and draft picks.

Just above Washington in the standings, the Magic, Pistons and Hornets are all fighting for the eight seed. If any of them falter, they’d be obvious “tank” candidates. In the West, everything is still congested in the standings, but the Grizzlies and Pelicans will want to listen to offers for their respective stars if they’re on the outside looking in a month from now.

7. Do the Bucks have enough to compete for a title?

When LeBron James was 24 years old, he won his first MVP and led the Cavs to a league-best 66 wins. He was so transcendent that the team didn’t think it needed to improve a roster with Mo Williams as its second-best player at the trade deadline. Everyone knows how that worked out for Cleveland — the Orlando Magic caught fire in the Conference Finals and upset the Cavs.

Milwaukee Bucks fans should be scared to death of history repeating itself with Giannis Antetokounmpo this season. Giannis is also 24 years old and an MVP front-runner, and he’s leading a surprisingly good Bucks team to the top of the conference as the deadline nears. While the Bucks have better secondary options than the 2009 Cavs had, their current roster is probably another scorer and versatile forward away from being threats to win it all.

8. Are the Raptors finally a legitimate title contender?

These dinosaurs are legit. Unlike past years, they have a roster built for the playoffs. Kawhi Leonard is back to being the Kawhi Leonard of old (albeit, a little better on offense and a little worse on defense). Danny Green is having his best season in years. Same goes for Serge Ibaka, whose switch to small-ball center appears to have triggered a Benjamin Button-like reverse aging in his body. Kyle Lowry is second in the league in assists, too.

And who could forget Pascal Siakam — wow, where the hell did this guy come from? In his third season, he’s made the jump from solid defensive presence off the bench to potential All-Star and two-way terror on the court. He’s always sprinting, making offensive players uncomfortable on defense and pushing the envelope on offense — just making winning plays all over the court. He’s like Toronto’s own mutated version of Draymond Green. If you haven’t seen him play yet, you’re missing out on the best spin move in the NBA.

9. Are the Houston Rockets still contenders?

James Harden probably answered this one at Golden State last week where he put on one of the most impressive performances of his career. His three-pointer between the outstretched hands of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green was the climax point of an on-going, 15-game stretch in which he’s averaging over 40 points per game. We know Harden will keep stuffing the stat sheet, but we also know that he’s prone to wear down in the playoffs if another teammate isn’t there to lighten his load. Can Chris Paul get back on track once he returns from his hamstring injury? Does Houston trade for another shot creator at the deadline?

10. Are the Nuggets a legitimate title contender?

Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets’ meteoric rise to the top of the Western Conference has been one of the biggest surprises of this NBA season. Jokic is proving to be a one-man elite offense, as the Nuggets have been able to withstand significant injuries to a number of their key players, including Paul Millsap, Gary Harris and Will Barton. Even if they sputter at some point during the second half of the season, they should finish with a top-four record in the West. The question then becomes what is their ceiling this season with a roster comprised mostly of players with little to no prior playoff experience? A safe bet is that they’ll win their first-round series and then lose a close battle in the second round to a more experienced team like the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder or Lakers. Regardless, the future is bright in Denver.

11. Have the Thunder quietly built a defensive machine to upset the Warriors?

With Paul George playing at a first team All-NBA level this season and Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder and Jerami Grant playing excellent two-way basketball, the Thunder might be the team best equipped to take down the Warriors. Notice I didn’t mention Russell Westbrook? That’s because the Thunder are often winning games in spite of Westbrook. While he is taking two fewer shots per game and has recommitted himself to defense (leading the league in steals), his shooting splits and shot selection are abysmal. He’s a key reason why OKC has the worst field-goal percentage in the NBA. It’s so frustrating because this team could absolutely steal some games from the Warriors in a series (they’re 3-2 vs. Golden State since acquiring Paul George) with its defense and overwhelming athleticism. However, Westbrook has to be a much more efficient player for the Thunder to take down Goliath.

12. Can the 76ers avoid a chemistry catastrophe?

There are layers to this one. For starters, the relationship between franchise cornerstones, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, is somewhere between “working partnership” and “icy.” It’s probably closer to the latter right now after their recent rebounding collision and Embiid’s subsequent freak-out. If that weren’t enough to worry about, Jimmy Butler is apparently already comfortable dressing down head coach Brett Brown in front of teammates about his role in the offense. Some teams can excel amid chaos like this; others fall victim to it. Will the Eastern Conference’s most talented team straighten things out for a long playoff run? Or will it implode from within?

13. Do the Pacers have enough offensive firepower to win the East?

It may come as a surprise to the casual fan, but the Indiana Pacers are a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference this season. They’re currently in third place and have the NBA’s third-highest rated defense despite missing their star, Victor Oladipo, for 11 games this season. Their defense and plethora of excellent role players will keep them in every game come playoff time, but can Oladipo carry their offense enough for them to make a deep run? Look for the Pacers to add some more scoring pop at this year’s trade deadline.

14. What is the Clippers’ ceiling?

How many players do you think a casual NBA fan could name on the Clippers? Three? Four? Despite having no star power, the Clippers are 24-16 and in fourth place in the loaded Western Conference. This is no longer a cute story about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts — this team is legitimately good. Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are all good players and have destroyed unsuspecting opponents this season.

How good are they? Can they win a playoff series? It’ll depend on the matchup and whether they pick up a better two-guard (Avery Bradley stinks now) and rim protector (Gortat isn’t cutting it). They could probably take down any team without an MVP-caliber player in a seven-game series, so if they play the Spurs, Blazers or Jazz in the first round, they’ll have more than a puncher’s chance to advance.

15. Will Jaylen Brown or Gordon Hayward get back on track?

If someone told you that Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward were averaging only a combined 23.6 points per game, you’d probably assume that the Celtics were having the season from hell. Fortunately for Boston, the “Marcuses” (Morris and Smart) have stepped up their respective games and covered for Brown’s and Hayward’s struggles. The team is comfortably in fifth place in the top-heavy Eastern Conference and will always have a chance in any playoff series with Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and the Marcuses playing well. However, if the Celtics want to compete for a title, they’ll need at least one of Brown or Hayward to start playing better. Both have shown some signs of life recently, but an occasional good game won’t suffice come May and June.

16. Do the Jazz have another magical second half in store?

Quin Snyder has been a second-half miracle worker in his tenure as head coach of the Utah Jazz. Last season, after a 17-24 start to the season, the Jazz ripped off a 31-10 record the next 41 games and rode that momentum to a first-round upset over the Thunder. At 20-21 through 41 games this season, Snyder will need to once again work his second-half magic to get Donovan Mitchell and Co. back on track.

17. How does DeMarcus Cousins fit in with the Warriors?

As they attempt to three-peat and win their fourth title in five seasons, the Warriors are struggling with mental and physical fatigue. Even when they’re at full strength, they seem as vulnerable as they’ve seemed since Kevin Durant joined the team. That could all change when DeMarcus Cousins makes his debut. Will the Warriors be rejuvenated by their “new toy” and find new ways to throttle teams? Or will Cousins’ overwhelming but unnecessary offensive talent hurt the team’s on-court chemistry? Boogie’s commitment to defense could ultimately dictate this one.

18. Can Steph Curry really go 50-45-90 again?

Remember when Steph Curry won the first-ever unanimous MVP in 2015-16 and forced us to recalibrate how basketball was going to be played moving forward? That season he averaged 30.1 points per game and joined Steve Nash as the only players to ever join the 50-45-90 Club (FG percentage-3FG percentage-FT percentage). Well, he’s doing it again this season. Right now he’s averaging 28.9 points per game on 48-44-91 shooting splits. (And he’s been in a slump lately too.) Thanks to the equally ridiculous seasons guys like James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo are having, hardly anyone seems to be noticing how insanely well Curry is shooting this year.

19. Can we hand Luka Doncic the Rookie of the Year, already?

Barring injury, the answer is yes. Doncic has been a revelation in Dallas and is must-see television every time he steps on the court. He might even get voted in as an All-Star Game starter. And while he shouldn’t be an All-Star starter, nobody should have any issues with him making the team because he’s averaging 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game and absolutely has a case as being one of the 12 best players in the Western Conference this season.

20. Should the Knicks even bother bringing Kristaps Porzingis back this season?

If you recall, Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL just before the All-Star break last season. With a crappy roster in place and their sights set on Kevin Durant, the Knicks have been in no rush to get their young star on the court before he’s completely healthy. They are going to evaluate Porzingis in mid-February, but there’s a chance he doesn’t play at all this season.

Should he play? On one hand, it’d be nice to get him back on the court for about 10-15 games to help him get his rhythm and confidence back heading into the offseason — this is what the Pacers did with Paul George following his broken leg. On the other hand, with a shot at the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, they might not want Porzingis winning games for them and screwing up their lottery odds.

Full 25

By Pat Heery

Kevin Love signs four-year extension with Cavs

The Cleveland Cavaliers said goodbye to LeBron James this offseason for the second time in four years, and there has been some talk that Kevin Love could be the next to leave town. It does not seem like that is the team’s plan — at least for now.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst report that the Cavs have signed Love to a four-year, $120 million extension.

Adrian Wojnarowski

@wojespn

ESPN reporting with @WindhorstESPN: Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension — topping out his overall deal at five-years, $145 million, league sources tell ESPN.

The new contract is somewhat surprising, as many expected the Cavs to either trade Love or the star forward to aim for a big year statistically before heading into free agency next summer. Love has already won a championship, however, so it makes sense that he is opting for financial security.

Love still could be traded at some point, but that has seemed like a long shot all along. The four-year extension indicates the Cavs want him to become the face of their franchise rather than getting rid of everyone and starting over.

Full article here

 

Cavaliers’ Love Out 6-8 Weeks

Written by Colin Ward-Henninger at CBS Sports.com

This hasn’t been a good week for All-Stars when it comes to injuries.

First DeMarcus Cousins tore his Achilles. Then the Wizards announced that John Wall would have a knee procedure and be out for two months. Now it’s Kevin Love’s turn.

Love broke his hand during Tuesday’s game between the Cleveland Cavalier sand Detroit Pistons, and will reportedly miss 6-8 weeks.

 

Here’s the play where Love was injured:

The injury comes at the worst possible time for the Cavs, who had won two games in a row entering Tuesday’s game after losing 10 of 13. The bad month was accompanied by some reported finger-pointing and hostility from the Cavs, with Isaiah Thomas questioning why Love left the team’s blowout loss to the Thunder early.

SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh’s computer projection model shows a decline for the Cavs with Love out of the lineup.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Isaiah Thomas Won’t Be Ready For Debut Until At Least Christmas.

Written by Dave McMenamin at ESPN.com

A source close to Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Isaiah Thomas told ESPN that his camp has ruled out a return before Christmas, taking Tuesday’s road game against the Milwaukee Bucks and Thursday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls off the table for his Cavs debut.

Thomas has been recovering from a hip injury suffered in last season’s playoffs since he was dealt to Cleveland in the offseason trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics. But Thomas has yet to practice with the Cavs in a full-court, 5-on-5 setting, multiple team sources told ESPN. Part of the reason for that is Cleveland, a veteran-laden team that has reeled off 18 victories in its past 19 games, rarely practices.

The Cavs are scheduled to hold a practice in San Francisco on Christmas Eve. But it would seem rushed for Thomas — who has missed seven months with a torn labrum and other complications in his hip — to play against the defending-champion Golden State Warriors just 24 hours after his first full practice, no matter how good he is feeling.

Following the Warriors game, the Cavs play the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 27, and then they have a one-day retreat planned in Napa, California, after that contest, which one source close to Thomas described as a “nice environment” for the two-time All-Star to “get ready” to play his first game. A Cavs source described the Napa excursion as a “nice way to break up a long trip.”

The Cavaliers finish their three-game road trip on Dec. 30 against the Utah Jazz.

The Cavs’ official timeline for Thomas’ recovery provided to the media in late September called for Thomas to be playing games by the first of the year.

Yahoo Sports reported Sunday that Thomas was targeting the first week of January for a return.

“I don’t know where that came from, but I hope so,” Lue said following the Cavs’ 106-99 win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday. “I hope it’s accurate.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

LeBron And Enes Kanter Got Into Scuffle During Amazing Knicks-Cavs Game

Written by Dave McMenamin at ESPN.com

The message embroidered on the front of LeBron James’ baseball cap he wore after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 104-101 comeback victoryover the New York Knicks on Monday night summed up the game — and his talk — perfectly.

“All good,” the cap read in uppercase letters, followed by another line of text underneath: “Never better.”

Sure, the Cavs have been better before — they’re currently 7-7 on the season, with the win over the Knicks giving them their first winning streak since they started the season 2-0. And James, while still dominating the sport, probably peaked as an individual player several years ago.

But the drama between Cleveland and its Eastern Conference counterpart in New York? That may very well be unrivaled in the two teams’ shared history after all the off-court drama of the past several days.

With Phil Jackson resigning as team president in June, it seemed as if James lost the target of his Knicks-based ire. That is, until New York big man Enes Kanter stepped in to fill the void.

Over the weekend, James said the Knicks should have drafted Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 8 pick in the NBA draft instead of French guard Frank Ntilikina. Kanter took exception to James’ take, coming to his rookie teammate’s defense first on Twitter on Saturday night shortly after James made the comment that Smith “should be a Knick,” and later at practice Sunday when he said James’ words showed “disrespect.”

James, in turn, laughed off Kanter’s rebuttal at shootaround Monday.

“For Enes Kanter, who always got something to say,” James said. “He says … I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Could LeBron Own Cavs One Day?

Written by Chris Barnewell at CBS Sports.com

LeBron James’ interest in one day owning an NBA team is nothing new. He has made it well known that later in his life, after his playing career is over, he’d like to one day be an NBA owner. He has never indicated which team he’d like to own, but the Cavaliers seem like a likely choice.

James grew up in Akron, was drafted by Cleveland, and brought the city its first pro title in 52 years. Being owner of the Cavs seems like the logical next step. However, while James has interest, he isn’t indicating any specific team he’d like to own. James told Jason Lloyd of The Athletic about his desire to be an owner some day.

“To be an owner of any team would be crazy, if this thing opened up and I’m in a position financially, and I’ve got the right team around me, obviously. But who’s to say Dan will (sell)? I’ve always kept it just player/owner at this point. I guess once I come down to that point, if the conversation needed to be had, I’ll have it. But I don’t have it right now.”

James is indicating that, if the Cavs were open and he had the money, he would consider purchasing the team. However, it also sounds like he’s treating them like any other NBA team. He isn’t saying that he’s holding out to own the Cavs. He’s keeping his options open right now.

Becoming owner of the Cavs might seem like the obvious move, but if another team opens up before them it doesn’t sound like James is going to let that stop his goal of one day owning a team.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Gordon Hayward Fractures His Ankle

Written by Andrew Sharp at SI.com

“Oh my goodness, Hayward came down so hard,” Kevin Harlan was saying halfway through the first quarter of the TNT broadcast. And then a second later: “Hayward broke his leg. Hayward has broken his leg. Hayward has broken his leg.” Then more silence. “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. And that is how quickly a season can change.” Then Reggie Miller: “This is unbelievable. I mean…” For the next 90 seconds, the broadcast team went silent. All you could hear were murmurs from the crowd while the camera panned across stunned fans and players.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling in the building,” Harlan said near the end of the game.

Watching at home, there was the initial confusion, and then horror that set in watching everyone in the arena recoil at once. And then, obviously, as he grimaced and nodded toward LeBron James and the Cavs while being carried off the floor, everyone felt awful for Hayward.

But the whole time, there was also a kind of disbelief that any of this was really happening. Hayward’s injury would’ve been awful in any game, but five minutes into the first game of the NBA season, it seemed like some kind of alternate timeline nightmare for basketball fans. This was Paul George’s Team USA injury, with the entire sport watching, in a game that we’d all planned our week around. The injury was bad enough that announcers could diagnose him seconds afterward from 50 feet away. Various players ran off the Cavs bench. The Celtics played the next hour looking dazed and lifeless.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Isaiah Thomas: No Love Lost For Danny Ainge

Written by Lee Jenkins at SI.com

A green-and-gray mini basketball sits on a bed of sand-colored rocks next to the pool in the backyard. The ball belongs to five-year-old Jaiden Thomas, son of Isaiah Thomas, whose name and image grace the side of it. Jaiden brought the ball from Boston to Cleveland, a reminder that his father used to play for the Celtics and played so well they sold souvenirs with his picture on them. Jaiden’s family does not have a hoop at their new home in Westlake, Ohio, a two-story brick traditional with a circular driveway framed by oak trees. So if they want to shoot, they cross the quiet street to the Strong residence. “Excuse me,” Isaiah said, when he first knocked on the Strongs’ front door one overcast afternoon in late September. “Can we use your hoop?”

Joyce Strong laughed because nobody had put a ball through that rusted rim since her daughter, Terry, moved out a couple decades ago. And she apologized because at some point a snow plow rammed the black stanchion, knocking the basket slightly off-center. “That sounds perfect,” Isaiah replied. As he and Jaiden fired jumpers from the Strongs’ cement slab, Joyce and her husband took stock of their affable new neighbors. “I think that’s the point guard the Cavs just got,” Tom said, looking for the local newspaper to provide confirmation. “I don’t know,” Joyce responded. “Isn’t he too small?”

For six years NBA officials asked the same question, until last season, when Thomas provided a definitive answer. No, he is not too small, and yes, the Kings were foolish to bench him and the Suns senseless to trade him and others irresponsible to overlook him. At 5’9″, Thomas averaged the most points in the Eastern Conference, putting up totals Kyrie Irving would envy: 41 against Detroit and Portland, 44 against Toronto and Memphis, 52 against Miami and 53 against Washington. The Wizards outburst came in the second round of the playoffs, six weeks after Thomas injured his hip at TD Garden, when he attempted a layup over four Timberwolves and 7-foot center Karl-Anthony Towns crashed down on top of him. But the Celtics were scrapping for the No. 1 seed in the East. Thomas wanted to play. Then his 22-year-old sister, Chyna, died in a car accident on April 15, the day before Game 1 of the first round. Thomas needed to play.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Wade Leaning Towards Reunion With LeBron

Written by the AP at LA Times.com

Together again: LeBron and D-Wade. Just like old times.

Dwyane Wade has decided to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers and reunite with LeBron James, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press on Tuesday night.

Wade, a 12-time All-Star, is expected to clear waivers on Wednesday and then join the Cavaliers, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot be completed until Wade goes through the waiver process.

In Cleveland, Wade will be reunited with James, his close friend, former Miami teammate and a player he confided in before signing with his hometown Chicago Bulls last year.

Wade and James won two NBA titles together during four seasons with the Heat and will now chase another one with the Cavaliers, who have been revamped after losing to the Golden State Warriors in last season’s Finals.

On Monday, James said he would “love” to play again with Wade.

“He brings another championship pedigree, championship DNA,” James said at Cleveland’s media day. “He brings another player to the team who can get guys involved, can make plays and also has a great basketball mind. I hope we can bring him here. I would love to have him.”

Once Wade completes the waiver formality, he’ll be the latest new, high-profile player to join the Cavs, who traded for All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, signed former league MVP Derrick Rose and added two strong wing defenders in Jae Crowder and Jeff Green, wing players who may help them defend the Warriors if those teams get back to a fourth straight Finals matchup.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Cavs Shopping First Rounder From Kyrie Trade

Written by Kyle Boone at CBS Sports.com

The Cleveland Cavaliers squeezed the Celtics of assets when they shipped Kyrie Irving to Boston. Now it seems one of the biggest assets acquired in the trade, Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick, could be on the trading block.

According to Joe Vardon of cleveland.com, the Cavs have already begun taking calls about the pick, which could be in the top five depending upon Brooklyn’s season.

As owners of Brooklyn’s No. 1 pick, which could be a top-five pick in next year’s draft, Cleveland has fielded numerous calls already about a potential trade. It could be a part of a major trade package for the Cavs later this year, or, conceivably, the Cavs could make that pick next June.

So why in the world would Cleveland — a team that just shipped out its second best player — trade away the most valuable draft asset it owns? Simple: Cleveland could flip that future asset into a current one, as in a player who could help the team win now rather than later.

This is a very smart strategy by new GM Koby Altman, who is well aware that the upcoming season could be LeBron James’ last in Cleveland. James will hit the free agent market in 2018, so for Cleveland to show its willingness to take an outside-the-box approach to improving the roster could make a good impression.

Although some might say Cleveland would be potentially wasting an asset by trading away a potential top-five pick, it’s important to remember just how much it acquired in the Irving trade. In addition to the Brooklyn pick, Cleveland also acquired Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, Isaiah Thomas and a 2020 second round pick.

To continue reading this article, click here.