The Cleveland Cavaliers have done the improbable as they improved their roster despite trading Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics this offseason. The Cavaliers were able to acquire Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, the 2018 Nets first-round pick, and a 2020 second round pick. However, new Cavs GM Koby Altman might not be done dealing, as the latest rumors suggest that the Cavaliers have already shopped the Brooklyn pick.
According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the Cleveland Cavaliers have received several calls from unnamed NBA teams regarding the 2018 first-round pick that could potentially be a top-five selection depending on the performance of the Brooklyn Nets in the upcoming season. There have been rumors about LeBron James leaving Cleveland next summer, and the Brooklyn pick could be used as insurance for an immediate rebuild.
Another possible reason why the Cleveland Cavaliers are shopping the pick is to improve their roster as much as possible and challenge the Golden State Warriors for the NBA championship. If the Cavaliers somehow defeat the Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals, James might get convinced to stay and finish his career where it started.
However, with several superstars rumored to be available before the start of the 2016-17 NBA season, the Cavaliers could be making one last push to further improve their roster. Here are the five players the Cavaliers can acquire with the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick plus players.
Carmelo Anthony, SF – New York Knicks
When Anthony was asked about the teams he wants to play for, he chose the Cavaliers and the Houston Rockets. Although Anthony prefers to team up with Chris Paul and James Harden, the new Cavaliers front office could convince him to waive his no-trade clause, play alongside LeBron James, and possibly make his first-ever NBA Finals appearance.
The Cavaliers can offer the Nets pick along with Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye for Carmelo Anthony. It might be too much, but Cleveland could demand a future draft pick for compensation. The Knicks can finally start to rebuild around Kristaps Porzingis while the Cavaliers gets more dangerous on the offensive end.
Eric Bledsoe, PG – Phoenix Suns
The 27-year-old point guard is not an NBA superstar, but he still has the potential to become one if he can stay healthy. Injuries could be a problem for the Cleveland Cavaliers with the fragile Derrick Rose and Isaiah Thomas’ bad hip. Buddy Grizzard of Basketball Insiders believes that Bledsoe, a close friend of LeBron James, could entice “The King” to stay in Cleveland.
“The most obvious target would be Phoenix point guard Eric Bledsoe, a fellow Klutch Sports client with James. If Rose is not seen as the answer and too many questions surround Thomas, Bledsoe could be the solution. He’ll have one season remaining on his contract after this season, which could at least entice James to stay on for another two-year contract with a second-year player option.”
However, the Suns have to help the Cavaliers free up some cap space to make it even in the eyes of Cleveland. Phoenix can take on some unwanted salaries from the Cavaliers, but acquiring Bledsoe is a risky business for Cleveland given his injury history.
DeMarcus Cousins, C – New Orleans Pelicans
“Boogie” and the Pelicans are entering a make-or-break season, with Cousins having the ability to become a free agent next summer. If the partnership with Anthony Davis does not work and the Pelicans miss the playoffs, Cousins will surely skip town and join a contender.
In an episode of The Herd (h/t Cavs Nation), Nick Wright suggested a trade scenario wherein the Cleveland Cavaliers trade the Brooklyn Nets pick, Iman Shumpert, and Channing Frye to New Orleans for DeMarcus Cousins. It’s not impossible to see the deal happen, especially at the trade deadline, when the Pelicans are in the thick of the race for the lottery.
Anthony Davis, PF – New Orleans Pelicans
Davis still has four years left on his contract, but it’s not far-fetched to think that the Pelicans will trade him to start a rebuild. The Cleveland Cavaliers will need to offer an even better deal from the Cousins trade scenario to convince New Orleans to let their best player go. Cleveland will surely have to include Kevin Love in the deal plus the Brooklyn pick and a couple of future draft picks as a sweetener.
The only reason for the Pelicans to trade Anthony Davis is if they got tired of not winning with him as the superstar. Davis is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world today, but he has not shown the ability to lead a team while also being injury prone. A change of scenery might be best for him and the Pelicans.
Paul George, SF – Oklahoma City Thunder
If the Thunder are in the thick of the playoff race at the deadline, Paul George won’t be on the trading block. However, if George and Russell Westbrook fail to work as a unit, Oklahoma City could look to deal either one or even both, since they can become free agents at the end of the season. We’re going to lean on George getting traded because he has expressed his interest in playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were linked to George this offseason, and they were very close to acquiring him. The Brooklyn Nets pick and Kevin Love could be enough to make a deal with George being a rental for a half-season.
However, it should be noted that the Cleveland Cavaliers shopping the Nets pick are just rumors at the moment and nothing has been confirmed. With the season getting closer, Cleveland has to focus on a lot of things, but their priority is surely dethroning the Warriors atop the NBA pedestal. The Cavaliers can certainly do it if they can acquire enough firepower to counter Golden State.
[Featured Image by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]