With close to two weeks having passed since the 2018-19 NBA season started, the Cleveland Cavaliers are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 0-5 record. While the team has frequently insisted that there’s no need for a full rebuild in the aftermath of LeBron James’ exodus to the Los Angeles Lakers, a new report suggests that there’s a chance some of the Cavs’ top players might be shipped off to other teams before the February 7 trade deadline.
According to the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney, league observers are waiting for what could be a “fire sale” for the Cavaliers, or a series of moves that could see them trading away some key contributors and kicking off a rebuilding effort in earnest. Deveney mentioned Kevin Love as the potential “centerpiece” of a blockbuster trade, but since his lucrative contract might be hard for other teams to take on, center Tristan Thompson and forward/guard Kyle Korver could be traded away instead, with Thompson most likely being the “first to go.”
Regarding the timing of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ potential roster moves, Deveney quoted an unnamed NBA executive, who believes the team might not be making any major changes early on in the season.
“Don’t hold your breath. If they decide to blow it all up, I don’t expect that decision to be made until we get close to the [trade] deadline. They still think they can win.”
— The Hoop News (@TheHoopNews) October 27, 2018
According to Basketball-Reference, Love is currently the Cavaliers’ top offensive option in LeBron James’ absence, averaging 19 points and 13.5 rebounds for the team, but shooting just 32.3 percent from the field. As noted by Bleacher Report, Love signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension with the Cavs in the 2018 offseason.
Thompson currently sports averages of 7.2 points and 9.2 rebounds and is slated to earn over $35 million over the remaining two years of his contract, while Korver, who, at 37-years-old, is the oldest of the three players mentioned by the Sporting News, is playing sparingly for the Cavaliers, averaging just 6.5 points in four games this season.
In a report documenting the Cleveland Cavaliers’ early-season struggles, WKYC wrote that some of the team’s key figures issued statements ahead of the 2018-19 season that aimed to silence talks of rebuilding efforts. Following his contract extension in July, Love stressed the team still has “championship caliber guys” in the lineup despite James’ departure. Meanwhile, head coach Tyronn Lue similarly insisted in September that the Cavs are not rebuilding, and are also not planning to “tank,” or purposely aim for a bad season in order to improve their chances of getting a high draft pick in the coming year.