The Cleveland Cavaliers are reeling and they need reinforcements. And they need it fast. Five games after an “emotional” team meeting wherein a number of Cavs players called out Kevin Love, the Eastern Conference champs are seemingly still in the same boat. Now, with Love out injured and the front office failing to acquire the Sacramento Kings point guard George Hill, the team is moving on and reportedly eyeing DeAndre Jordan, Jordan Clarkson, and Kemba Walker.
The Cavaliers have reportedly inquired about the availability of Jordan Clarkson of the Los Angeles Lakers, DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers, and Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets. According to Skip Bayless of Undisputed, the Cavaliers and DeAndre Jordan have “mutual interest” in joining forces. The Cavs has the assets to pull this off since the Clippers are clearly focused on clearing cap space. The Cavaliers could offer a combination of Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Ante Zizic, Cedi Osman, and a 2018 first or second-round draft pick.
With Kevin Love out, DeAndre Jordan could instantly fill in and become the rim protector and defensive presence that the Cavaliers are sorely missing. However, if the Cavaliers reaches the NBA Finals and face off against the Golden State Warriors or the Houston Rockets, the Cavs would likely field Love instead of Jordan at the center position to match up with these two Western Conference juggernauts. Still, acquiring the Clipper center would be a coup especially if LeBron opts to take his talents elsewhere next season.
Kemba Walker is performing like an All-Star this season. While Isaiah Thomas has performed well enough for the Cavaliers, it is clear that he isn’t back to the level when he himself was selected as an All-Star. The Cavaliers still have Derrick Rose, another former All-Star, but he is now a shell of his former self. That said, the Cavaliers has reportedly inquired about Walker.
While Michael Jordan has repeatedly tried to quell these rumors, His Airness has also said that he is willing to listen to any trade proposal involving his star point guard. However, in order for the Cavs to acquire Walker, the team must be willing to part ways with a lot more assets than that time that they gave up Kyrie Irving.
The Bleacher Report lined up one scenario that would allow the Cavaliers to land Walker. In this proposed three-team trade deal, the Cavaliers would receive Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood of the Utah Jazz, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets, and a 2018 first-round pick from Utah. The Hornets would get Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert of the Cavaliers, Ricky Rubio of the Jazz, Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick, and Utah’s 2018 second-round pick. The Jazz then would receive the Hornets’ Michael Carter-Williams and the Cavaliers’ Kevin Love and Isaiah Thomas.
A starting lineup composed of Walker, Smith/Wade/Hood, James, Favors, and Thompson would probably be enough to get the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. However, anyone with at least two brain cells could probably argue that a team with James in it could possibly get into the NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers have also reached out to the Los Angeles Lakers to talk about Jordan Clarkson after the Cavs failed to acquire Hill. According to SB Nation, both Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN have confirmed that the Cavaliers and the Lakers have “had conversations” about Clarkson.
It is no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers are desperate to create cap space for the 2018 free agency bonanza and Clarkson may just be the first casualty in the Lakers’ effort to make it back to the top. However, if the Cavaliers do acquire the dynamic Laker spitfire, they would receive a combo-guard that could improve their depth. Clarkson is currently the only NBA player averaging at least 14 points while playing less than 24 minutes per contest. If the Cavaliers fail to acquire Kemba Walker, Clarkson wouldn’t be a bad option.
On paper, the Cleveland Cavaliers has one of the best lineups that any GM could field. Composed of All-Stars led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love, Isaiah Thomas, and Derrick Rose, and backed up by old reliables including Kyle Korver, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Jeff Green, Iman Shumpert, and Jose Calderon, this Cleveland team is built to trounce any team. And granted that they have been hit with injuries and other personal or personnel issues, the team is still stacked with very good players that could spoil the nights of any opposing team. Only, they haven’t.
As if the aforementioned meeting and on-court struggles are not troubling enough, James is now reportedly open to discussing a possible team-up with the Golden State Warriors. And if there is any substance to this James-to-Golden-State drama, err, rumors, then it is important now more than ever to acquire Jordan, Clarkson, or Walker to shore up the Cavaliers depth.
The Cavaliers went 3-2 after the said meeting. Their last win, a gutsy two-point victory against the determined but All-Star-less Miami Heat squad at home, left more questions about the team’s ability to close out opponents who are clearly not as deep or talented as they are. Granted that Miami is right on the heels of Cleveland in the standings, but a team pegged by most basketball experts to make the NBA Finals should have been able to defeat a team like the Heat even without Kevin Love in the lineup.
If the Cavs are successful in bringing in Jordan, Clarkson, or Walker to Cleveland, and provided that the Cavaliers can solve their chemistry issues, then the NBA Finals is certainly within reach. Winning it all, however, is still another question.