By: Ben Meyerson
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LeBron James has left the Cavaliers again and went to the Lakers, the last time he left in 2009 the Cavaliers went from 61 wins to 19. The Cavs are coming off a 50 win season and aren’t completely devoid of talent they have Kevin Love a 5x All-Star who averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds last year, Colin Sexton the 8th overall pick in the 2018 draft and some good young pieces like Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Rodney Hood. So while I do not believe they are headed for 19 wins they just won’t be the team they were last year, according to Vegas they are projected at 35.5 wins and finishing 10th in the east. I believe the Cavaliers have limited options as far as what they can do moving forward.
Option A: Trade Kevin Love
Kevin Love is the obvious trading piece if the Cavaliers want to blow it up and start over. If the Cavs want to start over keeping Kevin Love doesn’t make any sense for a lot of reasons. First of all, their 2019 first round pick is top-10 protected so just missing out on the playoffs next year and having to give up to potential 11-14th pick would a tremendous blow to the franchise. Second, we already know from this years playoffs that having Kevin Love as your second best player does win championships and since LeBron is gone having Kevin Love as your second best player might not get you past the first round. Also, Kevin Love is making $24 million a year and is going to be a free agent next season and if the Cavs are really bad why would he come back. So, if he does become available there aren’t that many teams that would want him and have the pieces to trade for him like the Pacers and Trail Blazers.
Portland Trail Blazers
Blazers get: Kevin Love
Cavaliers get: Evan Turner, Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan and 2019 Trail Blazers Top-5 Protected 1st Round Pick
After getting swept in the first round by the Pelicans, Portland needs to do something different. Adding Kevin Love to a 49 win team that was middle of the pack in total offense (16th) and elite on defense (5th) would be great for them. A core of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Kevin Love is a top playoff seed in the west and a competitive playoff team. Kevin Love has long been connected to the Trail Blazers since he went to high school in the Portland area and this team would have 2 potential All-Stars and an All-NBA point guard in Damian Lillard.
The Cavaliers won’t get the value back for Kevin Love in any of these trades but in this trade they get a future 1st round pick, two young promising players and Evan Turner who is overpaid but will be an UFA in two years. This move makes sense for the Cavs if they want to blow it up and start over.
Pacers get: Kevin Love
Cavaliers get: Thaddeus Young, Cory Joseph, 2019 Pacers Top-3 Protected 1st Round Pick, 2020 Pacers 2nd Round Pick
The Pacers have an All-NBA player in Victor Oladipo and they just acquired Tyreke Evans in free agency, they made it to the 5th seed and 48 wins and lost in 7 games to the Cavaliers. They finished 17th in total offense and 9th in total offense and I think they need to add another piece in order to push their team over the edge of mediocrity. Whether or not Kevin Love is that piece is questionable, but he does tremendously helps their chances moving forward in a conference where few teams made moves.
For the Cavs they should look to add future draft picks, expiring contracts or young players if they want to start over. With this trade they get 2 out of 3 of these pieces, they get two future picks and 2 expiring contracts that will allow them cap flexibility next season.
Option B: Trade Colin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson for an upgrade
If the Cavaliers decide to go in the opposite direction and try to win now there is a trade they can make:
Cavaliers get: Kemba Walker
Hornets get: Colin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson
According to Bleacher Report Kemba Walker could be in play for the Cavaliers, if the Cavs wanna win now and are confident in Kevin Love and the rest of this team this would be great move. Kemba Walker would add an All-Star level player who averaged 22 points and 5 assists per game, with Kevin Love and Kemba that team would be in play to make the playoffs and win around 40-44 games. I think that if they do this move they should also look into trading guys like Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr.
By acquiring Kemba they’ll potentially have two 20+ points per game and make it to the 6-8th seed. If they make the right moves acquire a better center for their young guys or add depth they could have a pretty good team that competes together in the playoffs every year.
On the Hornets side of things all season there have been lots of rumors about the hornets trying to move from Kemba, unfortunately for the Hornets they only said they would trade him if they got an All-Star back in return. So while this move may not be ideal on their side of things if they want to get younger and try to start over this could be a smart move. The fact is Kemba has 1 year left on his contract and he is most likely going to leave once in the last four years. If the team moves on from him now they can still get great value versus at the trade deadline, if they do want to trade him away.
Option C: Stay the course
The Cavaliers could also just stay the course and decide to hang onto Kevin Love and their young guys. If they really believe in last seasons moves of acquiring Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and Colin Sexton they should hang on and see how this season goes. This team could make the playoffs and make some noise in the 1st round at the best, but they shouldn’t have high expectations. If they believe they can win with this team they should trade Kyle Korver and try to move off the Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith contracts to create cap space or get more depth they would have a lot of options. With cap space they could go after free agents or try to make trades.