Despite the recent free-agency departure of LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers have made it clear that they have no intention of undergoing a full-scale rebuild. Giving Kevin Love a massive contract extension showed that the Cavaliers are still aiming to defend their title as Eastern Conference champions next season.
Though they still have a superstar on their roster, it remains questionable if the Cavaliers have the capability to beat the best teams in the East such as the Boston Celtics in a best-of-seven series.
Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report recently suggested a trade idea that could make the Cavaliers a more competitive team next season. In the proposed deal, the Cavaliers will be sending J.R. Smith and George Hill to the Los Angeles Clippers for Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley, Milos Teodosic, and a 2021 top-20 protected first-round pick. The suggested trade works on ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine.
“The Cavaliers, meanwhile, would prefer winning sooner than later. They’re out to prove they can contend without LeBron James, and while this deal doesn’t push them atop the East, it makes them more talented and adds an extra asset for future building or a separate swap. Defense might be disastrous for the Gallinari-Kevin Love frontcourt, but offensively they’re both capable hubs as scorers, shooters and passers. Beverley would be a fun mentor and/or fascinating backcourt partner for rookie Collin Sexton, who could also benefit by learning the finer points of playmaking from Teodosic.”
The deal will undeniably increase the Cavaliers’ chance of repeating as Eastern Conference champions next season. Gallinari will give the Cavaliers another reliable option on the offensive end of the floor, while the acquisition of Patrick Beverley will boost Cleveland’s defense. Beverley could also serve as the backcourt partner of Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton next season, while Milos Teodosic could mentor the rookie to become a better playmaker.
The deal might look lopsided, but Buckley believes it will benefit both the Cavaliers and the Clippers once it becomes a reality. As Dan Favale of Bleacher Report noted in his article, the Clippers are set to have $50 million in salary cap space in the summer of 2019. Successfully trading one of Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, or Montrezl Harrell will help them open two maximum slots in 2019 NBA free agency which will feature several NBA superstars like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker.
J.R. Smith and George Hill are signed until the 2019-20 NBA season, but both of their contracts are only partially guaranteed.