NBA Trade Season

Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Cavaliers News, NBA

This may very well be the worst stretch of basketball the Cleveland Cavaliers have played all season. In late November-early December, they lost two games by 40, on the road against playoff teams in Dallas and Philadelphia, however. They dropped three in a row last week, all at home to bad Eastern Conference teams (Knicks, Wizards, Bulls), all by double digits.

The turnovers are grotesque. They’re averaging over 16 a game. Combining passivity with the ball, confusion with what to do with the ball, and the wrong guys handling it contribute to a looseness that is unacceptable. Certain guys shouldn’t be dribbling. Better offensive design would help. Run sets that don’t put players in a position where they’re forced to do too much. And get into those plays faster. The Cavs have a blasé attitude on offense until the shot clock reaches single digits. Too much confusion and too little movement leads to over dribbling and rushed shots. The Cavs must develop a sense of purpose on the offensive end if the turnovers are to subside.

With the team fumbling along and the trade deadline nearing, the attention turns toward Koby Altman and the Cavs’ front office. Will anyone get flipped? Who is most valuable to teams looking to strengthen their playoff chances? Who do the Cavs want to move?

Not Getting Traded

Darius Garland
Kevin Porter Jr.
Dylan Windler
The three rookies drafted last year have shown the most promise, save Windler, who hasn’t played a down and won’t; he has no trade value and the Cavs want to see him healthy. Porter has shown flashes of star quality, as has Garland. If anyone on the current roster makes an All-Star team, it’ll be someone from this group. The Cavs will hold on to these three.

Not Getting Traded, But…..

Collin Sexton
Larry Nance Jr.
Nance is a young, athletic big who shows well in all aspects of the game, and he wants to be in Cleveland. He’s making 12 million this year and his contract deescalates, down to 9.6 million in 22-23. Nance isn’t going anywhere unless a team approaches them with an absurd offer (not happening). Sexton is a bulldog who can score. His shot selection is iffy, he sometimes plays selfishly, yet he’s the best player on the team scoring with the ball in his hands. He’s young, so the Cavs will allow him to grow, hoping he continues to improve. Playoff teams would like his scoring off the bench, but won’t offer enough to entice the Cavs.

What will you give us?

Cedi Osman
Dante Exum

Capable NBA players, Osman and Exum have little value outside Cleveland. Exum has dealt with injury the entirety of his career, but shows flashes defensively and scored 28 earlier this month. Osman is best fitted as a 7 or 8 man on a playoff team, giving solid D and decent 3 ball shooting for 15-20 minutes per night. Each has a role in the league, and the Cavs would move them, especially as pieces in part of a bigger deal. They won’t bring anything on their own, however, and will probably still be in Cleveland after the deadline.

The Assets

Kevin Love
Tristan Thompson

The two vets with rings, both rumored to be on the block since training camp, are the obvious trade pieces. Both could help playoff teams. Are there fits anywhere? Love’s massive contract is a sticking point; he’s due another 91 mil after this year. The Cavs have held out for a 1st rounder and another young player so far, but have Love’s actions changed their stance? Love seems disinterested and is no longer setting a good example for his young teammates. He has some instance once a month, apologizes, plays well for a week, then becomes dispassionate again. Lather, rinse, repeat. I felt all along the Cavs should hold out for as much as possible and were in no need of trading Love. His behavior has changed that, however. Love wants to play for a winner and his attitude yo-yos. Perhaps both parties need to move on. Will his contract allow the team to move him? Hard to see the Cavs giving Love away without that 1st round pick.

Thompson’s situation is different. In the last year of his contract, TT can walk with no compensation in the off-season, so the Cavs need insight on his thought process. Thompson plays hard and seems invested in the rebuild. He sets a good example for his young teammates. He’s defended rookie head coach John Beilein multiple times. Does he want to be in Cleveland? If the answer is yes, the Cavs should do whatever it takes to sign him. He’ll provide leadership that young teams need to learn how to win. If he wants out, however, Thompson might provide the most return. His expiring contract won’t hurt his new team’s books, and his hustle, rebounding, switchability on defense, and postseason experience would be a boon for any contender. This is Altman’s trickiest decision.

Please, Help Yourself

Matthew Dellavedova
John Henson
Brandon Knight
Ante Zizic

All players on the last year of their contracts, the Cavs front office would love to use these expiring deals to flip to cap strapped teams, taking back longer contracts with more money attached in exchange for draft picks. This strategy has worked well in the past, but a weak free agent class this summer may cause teams to hold still. There aren’t an abundance of bad deals around, and teams aren’t looking to clear space for max slots this summer. They’ll scour the league, looking to jump into multi-team deals if another franchise needs a place to dump money, but the likelihood any of these guys gets moved is low.

What’s What Around the League

1.Zion’s first week has lived up to the hype. Athletic, smooth and smart, Williamson will change the league. His instincts are honed; he sees the game at a high level. His first assist as a pro showed his skills as a passer. He knows the right moment to provide help on defense. His size, speed, and strength allow him to get where ever he wants on the floor. It’s the reason he’s shooting 63% from the field and why he’ll always be an efficient player. The Pelicans are plus 16 per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor. So why is he only playing in short bursts? They aren’t pulling him because he’s winded, it’s a load management play. If he’s healthy enough to play 20 minutes in an NBA game, he’s healthy enough to play 28-30. No study exists that suggests an extra 8-10 minutes on the floor leads to higher injury rates. New Orleans needs him on the floor; he makes them better, plus Zion needs minutes to get comfortable with the NBA game. His teammates need to play with him for their benefit. Get Zion on the floor and keep him there, New Orleans.

Excellent find for Zion’s 1st assist

2. Rumblings out of L.A. suggest some Clipper players are unhappy with the preferential treatment stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George receive from the coaching staff and management. Guess what, grow up. Stars have been and will always receive preferential treatment. How did the Clips fare without those two? The eight seed and a first round loss against the Warriors in the playoffs. Now they’re title contenders. Anyone else on that roster capable of putting a team on their back and leading it to a title as Kawhi did in Toronto last year? Thought so. If the Clippers make a deep run in the playoffs, it’ll be because of Leonard and George, and everyone on the team will get more recognition and cash. Get in your lane and stay in it.

3. What other player in the league’s history makes this pass? Few possess the size, let alone the instincts and vision to pull it off. Magic, maybe.

4. Christian Wood is one of those guys; stock dropped leading up to the draft, went undrafted, bounced from team to team, up and down from the G-League. Can he stick in the league? Wood is now 24. 6’10’, athletic with range, he’s getting a chance in Detroit to play steady minutes and has shown NBA rotation player talent. Since Blake Griffin’s injury, sidelining him for the season, Wood averages 11.5, 6 boards and 1 block in 21 minutes per, shooting 53% from the field and 38% from 3. He gets to the line, taking 4 free throws in those 20 minutes. The Pistons future is murky; Andre Drummond trade rumors have swirled for a while; will Blake Griffin ever be healthy? Derrick Rose is a nice story, but is he in Detroit’s plans? They need guys like Wood to change the trajectory of the rebuild. Finding and developing guys who have slipped through the cracks is a necessity for a franchise that isn’t a free agency destination. Is Wood one of those players? Too early to say, but length and athleticism from someone who can shoot the 3 isn’t a bad place to start.

5. Michael Carter-Williams, ugh. A former Rookie of the Year in Philly during The Process, Williams just doesn’t have it. His size is nice, he makes for a switchable asset on defense. He can’t shoot, however, and has zero feel. He’ll miss an easy oop to Aaron Gordon, either afraid to throw it or unable to see it develop. An airballed 18 footer, an ill-advised 3. When shooting 39% from the field and 23% from 3, you better be a lockdown defender or a capable playmaker. Williams is neither.

6. Who doesn’t love Kyle Korver? One of the top five shooters in NBA history, Korver fits in Milwaukee, giving the Bucks knock down 3 point shooting in 17 minutes per game. 161 of Korver’s 201 shots on the season have been 3’s, and coach Budenholzer calls beautiful sets to get Korver open looks. Will the Bucks be able to play Korver in the postseason, however? He’s an extreme liability defensively. Smart on that end, he has to cheat so blatantly to make up for his lack of athleticism that he gives up easy stuff to smart offenses. Korver could be handy if the Buck offense needs a boost for 3-5 minutes in the postseason, but he’ll be a spectator in May and June. His 3 ball shooting could swing a postseason game, however, and here’s hoping he gets a ring to cap off an outstanding career.

7. Go easy on’em, DeAaron.

8. It should scare NBA players to put the ball on the floor anywhere around Jrue Holiday. Other than Kawhi Leonard when he’s engaged, no player in the league gets his hands on more balls defensively than Holiday. He leads the league in deflections (4.5 per game), is 6th in loose balls recovered (1.5) and 7th in steals (1.7). Holiday disrupts opposing offenses at the most important position; he defends and frustrates point guards like no other. He and Lonzo Ball, each with great size and instincts, make getting into sets hell for the opposition.

9. Since two of his draft mates are starting the All-Star game, it’s easy to dismiss DeAndre Ayton as a mistake by the Phoenix Suns. While they would draft Luka Doncic or Trae Young over the 7 footer if they got a do-over, Ayton has played well since his return from a 25 game drug suspension. He has good footwork in the post, allowing him to get buckets around the rim with ease. Ayton’s improving as a rim protector as well(1.4 blocks per compared to 0.9 last year), and the Suns are 4 points better defensively when he’s on the floor. Over his last seven contests, he’s averaging 20 and 13. While he isn’t Luka, don’t label him a bust just yet.

10. RIP Kobe, Gianna, John, Keri, Alyssa, Christina, Ara, Sarah, and Payton. There aren’t words capable of soothing hearts after tragedy, only love. Be kind to your fellow man, flaws and all. The world is tough and unforgiving, impossible to understand. Always, always choose love.

All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com

 

The Young Cavs Don’t Suck

Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, Trae Young

Being a fan of an NBA team deep in rebuild mode requires extreme patience. The Cavaliers, during the last decade and a half, have volleyed between being a contender for the title and hoping for the number one pick in the draft. No ambiguity existed in Cleveland. Could this team make it to the middle? Dreaded by most in the league, being below average, instead of bad, puts a team in no-man’s-land. If not a title contender, fight for the top pick instead of the 14th. For the Cavs, however, being ‘meh’ could be what the franchise and fan base need.


With a compelling mix of veterans and rookies, the Cavs are fun. For them to approach average, the defense must improve from last year. After two games, they have yet to give up 100 points. Though the competition, Orlando and Indiana, are two of the most offensively challenged teams in the league, this represents a vast improvement over a year ago. Bad teams would light up the Cavaliers’ D, the worst, according to defensive rating, in the history of the NBA.


The young guards are struggling on that end, as predicted. Malcolm Brogdon netted 30 on Saturday night, while Evan Fournier and Markelle Fultz beat them off the dribble in Orlando. They’ve been bad instead of “worst in the league’s history” bad, though. Look for improvements where you can find them.


Sexton and Garland have shown playmaking abilities early, another worry coming into the season. Garland has tallied 9 assists in two games and seems to hunt for his teammates. Perhaps overlooked coming out of college, his passing to this point is encouraging. The touch from deep has been impressive, while he’s also shown a knack for getting to the rim. Through two games, Garland is unsure of himself, trying to fit in, yet his abilities have flashed.


Sexton is searching for teammates out of the pick and roll more than last year. He’s comfortable at the shooting guard position. While used to having the ball in his hands, Garland at the point frees Sexton to force the action on offense instead of running it, a more natural spot for him. Still feeling each other out, the guards have shown promising signs early that they can work together.


Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson dominated the Pacers Saturday night. Love, under-used in the opener, was the fulcrum of the offense. Set up primarily on the left side of the floor, Love drew fouls on Indiana’s bigs and showed playmaking skills not seen in his time in Cleveland. His 9 assists unlocked opportunities for his teammates and will be a key number to watch as the season progresses. The attention he draws will free space for everyone else on the floor.


A Love-Thompson pick and roll, seen a handful of times against the Pacers, is intriguing if not unusual. Love lacks the ball handling skills required for it to be an offensive staple, but for a few possessions a night can be helpful for the Cavs. By putting two opposing bigs in the play, the Cavs will force defenses into uncomfortable spots. Thompson has always been a solid roll man, and Love has shown the ability to make tight passes or hit open 20 footers, whatever the defense gives him.


While the defense is promising, in transition the Cavaliers have struggled. The young guys aren’t reacting, allowing run outs and layups on the other end, whether off makes or misses. The Cavs’ bigs are slow, lacking athleticism to run the floor. The mindset when a shot goes up has to switch to defense. Other than Tristan Thompson, the others must forego offensive rebounds for defensive positioning. Faster teams will bury them early if the mental lapses in this area continue.

Watching the ball, jogging instead of hustling back to the paint


Though it’s understandable why John Beilein has a soft spot for Matthew Dellavedova (all coaches do) his minutes should go to the young guys. While he can run the offense and get the team into their sets, he brings nothing else to the table. A leader on the bench and in the locker room is his proper role at this point in his career. The team would be better served allowing the young guys to make mistakes and learn from them at this stage. Delly is slow on defense and can’t shoot or get to the rim on offense. His performance in Game 3 of the 2015 Finals will remain forever in Cavs lore. Any Dellavedova floor time belongs in the past.

What’s What Around the League

1. The player of the week has to be Trae Young. Averaging 38, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, and a steal and a half, Young has dominated both times he’s stepped on the floor. A Young/Jabari Parker pick and roll on Saturday night chewed the Pistons defense to pieces, allowing Atlanta’s offense to get whatever it wanted. Experts’ opinions on this squad varied, many worried the kids would struggle with expectations. If Trae continues his torrid start, however, playoff and All-Star game appearances will begin this year.

2. A question mark for Milwaukee was how much they would miss Malcolm Brogdon. An outstanding player who’s shined so far with Indiana, he grabbed the reins during the playoffs when Eric Bledsoe faltered. Milwaukee cast their lot with cheaper, aging veterans, and so far, Wes Matthews fits. A favorite among NBA nerds, Matthews has struggled in recent seasons after an Achilles tear in 2015. A tough injury to return from, Matthews may have found a spot that plays on his strengths. He won’t get overused and can set up behind the arc, waiting for Giannis kick outs. If he can stay healthy, a big if, Matthews will be key to a Bucks’ title run.

3. Mike Budenholzer is an excellent defensive coach, but Giannis’ length is the ultimate weapon. Able to cover ground from the rim to the three line in an instant, Antetokounmpo covers the flaws of his slower footed teammates like Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova. He allows Coach Bud to play these guys when teams ordinarily run them off the court. While he’s averaging a triple double, his D may be his most valuable asset.

4. When I’m running an NBA team, Patrick Beverley will be on it. A bulldog, he does whatever is asked of him. Do you need your 6’1” guard to rebound? Done. He had 10 against the Lakers. Guard LeBron, get in his head? No problem. Play suffocating D? Sure, 5 steals against Golden State. He backs down from no one, always assisting his teammates. Beverley is a dog.

Teammate

5. Can we get rid of the coaches’ challenge yet? The green light is annoying, and it’s only been a week. Replay has jumped the shark in all sports, yet its worst in the NBA. A game dictated by flow, the challenge kills it. If it’s in play during the playoffs, when it matters most, we can discuss it, but lose that light for the regular season.

6. The Washington Wizards lost in San Antonio Saturday night, marking their 20th straight loss in the city. How is this possible? Yes, the Spurs have dominated for decades, but the Wiz never caught them on an off night? Gilbert Arenas never lit up Pop’s D? Mitch Richmond, Rod Strickland, and Juwan Howard couldn’t slow down David Robinson and Sean Elliott? This one is shocking.

7. Kristaps Porzingis is one of the best rim defenders in the league. At 7’3”, his combination of size and quickness makes him an ideal shot blocker, and he’s looking healthy in his return from injury. Damian Lillard cared for none of that, however. Lillard abused Porzingis Sunday night, fueling a Blazers 19 point comeback by attacking the rim in the fourth quarter, snubbing his nose at Kristaps as he went by. Lillard is a top ten player in the league, overlooked each year for reasons unknown. No one drills clutch shots like Dame.

8. If the Miami Heat finish the year close to the top of the East, Jimmy Butler will be the reason. Right behind him will be Bam Adebayo. A wrecking crew in Milwaukee Saturday, Adebayo kept Giannis out of the paint in the fourth, neutralizing the MVP. A chase down block of Eric Bledsoe in O.T. sealed the win, along with clutch free throw shooting from the former Kentucky big. An eye popping 8 assists, Adebayo has a feel for the game that allows him to control it. Excited to watch his continued development.

9. Kyrie in Brooklyn has been a show. 50 in the opener, he averaged 37.7 for the week. I’ll always have a soft spot where Irving’s concerned, and now that he’s away from Boston it’s safe to root for him again. The handles, the shot-making around the rim, the desire to shut out the rest of his teammates and do it all himself, it’s perfect. He’s must watch all year.

10. Coby White had a good first rookie week for the Bulls. 16, 5, and 3 from their point guard is what the Bulls need to make a playoff run. With the East in the shape that it’s in, and Lauri Markkanen poised to have a breakout season, if White can stabilize a position that’s been a black hole for the Bulls since Derrick Rose left, Chicago will be the 7 or 8 seed in April.