The Cleveland Cavaliers are considered the best team in the Eastern Conference for the upcoming 2016-17 NBA season. They still have to re-sign LeBron James, and the team is hoping to bring J.R. Smith back, as well. Assuming those two moves happen, the Cleveland Cavaliers would be a very dangerous team.
Golden State is the favorite to win the NBA Finals, but Cleveland could make a move to get right back on the same level as the Warriors.
According to a report from Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk, many general managers around the league expect Russell Westbrook to be traded ahead of the season.
That’s right; Cleveland should make a play for the superstar point guard. They have the pieces necessary to pull off a deal, although it likely would mean parting ways with Kyrie Irving. Kevin Love could be the centerpiece of the trade, but after the struggles that he had last season, there is a good chance that the Oklahoma City Thunder wouldn’t accept a deal with Love as the key piece.
Acquiring a player like Westbrook would turn that “dangerous” title into a lethal powerhouse.
Last season with the Thunder, Westbrook ended up averaging 23.5 points, 10.4 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game. He shot 45.4 percent from the field overall and knocked down 29.6 percent from behind the three-point arc. Those numbers show just how valuable he was and why many thought that he was the Most Valuable Player of the year despite the fact that Stephen Curry won the award.
Matt Moore of CBS Sports mentioned the Cavaliers as one of the eight teams that should look to acquire Westbrook. He suggests that the Cavaliers should view Westbrook as a far superior player to Irving and shouldn’t let dealing him away stop them from making the trade.
Obviously, that would depend on whether the Cavaliers could get a contract extension done with Westbrook. He is currently expected to hit open free agency next offseason.
At 27-years-old, Westbrook is in the prime of his career and still has a lot of basketball left to be played. He would make for an incredibly dangerous duo with LeBron James, to say the least. Cleveland would immediately be a serious contender against the Warriors, and it would make the rivalry even more serious with Westbrook going up against Durant after years of playing alongside each other.
What would the Cavaliers likely have to trade if they seriously want to acquire Westbrook?
Irving would be the centerpiece of the deal, but Cleveland would have to add another piece or two. They would likely have to give up at least one first round pick to help the Thunder in their rebuilding process.
Dan Gilbert and David Griffin have been known to be very aggressive in free agency and on the trade market. Just a few seasons ago, they went out and brought Love on board. Westbrook would be extremely expensive, but adding him could give the city of Cleveland another championship or two.
All of that being said, it will be interesting to see what ends up happening over the next couple of weeks. Oklahoma City has to decide whether they truly want to deal Westbrook, which is an incredibly difficult decision to make. If they do decide to deal him, Cleveland will have a lot of other teams to bid against.
Expect to hear plenty of rumors and different teams who will show interest in the coming days. Cleveland is certainly a team to keep an eye on with the trade chips that they have available. Westbrook and James would make for an extremely entertaining matchup against the star-studded Warriors.
Do you think the Cleveland Cavaliers should try to acquire Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder? Would the Cavaliers be able to knock off the Warriors with Westbrook on their side? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]