From the Cleveland Cavaliers’ perspective, landing the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick in the Kyrie Irving deal was extremely important.
From one perspective, it could be used as a major asset in a potential trade before or during the upcoming season in the hopes of bolstering an already-talented roster.
On the other hand, holding onto it could prove to be extremely beneficial towards a potential rebuild if LeBron James decides to leave town for the second time next summer. Since the Nets have been abysmal over the last few seasons and could very well struggle mightily yet again this season, it could very easily turn into a top three pick.
Apparently, the latter is the path that the organization will take, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, who addressed the topic on a recent podcast.
Of the possibility of Cleveland trading the pick, Wojnarowski said, “It is not happening. That is not why they traded for that pick.”
He continued, “Within the organization there is real significant doubt about whether [LeBron’s] going to return. Boston was the only team that could satisfy a perfect world for them – long term with the draft pick, and short term with Crowder and Isaiah … they’re not doing that. That’s not the plan in Cleveland.”
“The risk of trading that pick to be stuck with somebody else if LeBron leaves, who doesn’t fit a rebuild … they’re not going to let themselves be in the position of having to take years to untangle that roster. They’re holding onto that pick,” Woj claimed.
Lowe identified the one player who Cleveland could trade the pick for, but mentioned that it’d be a major long shot, backing up Woj’s stance.
“The most popular name has been Demarcus Cousins. It is not going to be DeMarcus Cousins,” Lowe explained. “The only way it is Demarcus Cousins is if Lebron says, Demarcus Cousins is my new best friend, I love Demarcus Cousins, if you trade for [him] I will sign on a piece of paper [that] I will come back here. It’s not Paul George. It’s not Marc Gasol…”
This reporting comes on the heels of Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com claiming that the team was shopping the pick last week.
“As owners of Brooklyn's No. 1 pick, which could be a top-five pick in next year's draft, Cleveland has fielded numerous calls already about a potential trade. It could be a part of a major trade package for the Cavs later this year, or, conceivably, the Cavs could make that pick next June,” he had written.
The Cavaliers also have their own 2018 first-round pick and have multiple second-round picks in coming years. Therefore, in the event of a rebuild, they might be able to make some moves to position themselves for a quick recovery by using those assets.
After the trade was finalized, local Cleveland radio host Andy Baskin explained that LeBron’s future is very much in question, so the pick is a great tool.
“Could he leave? For me it’s still 50-50,” said Baskin on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub, “And people will tell you that this trade has solidified the fact that LeBron is going to stay, because once again Dan Gilbert has said, ‘I’m going to do whatever it takes to make LeBron James happy’ – which is a good thing or a bad thing. Last time it happened, he got caught with his pants down. LeBron left, and the Cavaliers were nothing until they drafted Kyrie.”