Cleveland is once again looking to bolster its roster with help from the outside.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly pursuing DeAndre Jordan, George Hill, and Lou Williams in advance of the NBA’s Feb. 8 trade deadline, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein and The Vertical’s Shams Charania. While Cleveland sits third in the Eastern Conference with a 27-17 record, prominent players told reporters earlier this week that the roster had a talent problem.
According to Stein, the Cavaliers would be willing to part with veterans like Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith to bring in new veteran additions. Of course, Cleveland’s real trade asset is Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick, something that they would reportedly prefer to keep but will almost certainly would need to be involved for any major deal. The Cavaliers are also reportedly open to dealing their own 2018 first-round pick, although that has significantly less value.
It’s almost certain that Cleveland won’t end up with all three of those players. If they truly refuse to part with the Brooklyn pick, they might not complete any deal. Remember that the Cavaliers must send back dead weight salary in any deal, too, since they’re so far over the salary cap. It’s another pill that potential suitors must swallow if they deal with Cleveland, whose assets (the two picks, one significantly more valuable than the other, and perhaps Cedi Osman) are marginal.
Sacramento is definitely motivated to move Hill, a proven veteran who is filling a marginal role on an awful team. It’s not clear whether Los Angeles will be a seller, though — their ceiling isn’t high, but they’ve won six straight games (and 12 of their last 15) to push themselves back into the playoff picture. Earlier in the season, certainly, Jordan and Williams may have been available. But if Los Angeles maintains their current trajectory, do they hold onto veterans like Williams and Jordan to see what happens?
Which of those three players makes the most sense?
Jordan is most needed in Cleveland, a defensive backbone who would instantly become the team’s best shot blocker. But Hill would also fit extremely well, a two-way defender who can play on or off the ball, with the starting unit or off the ball, all while being efficient and smart. You can imagine a player like Hill thriving in Cleveland’s atmosphere.
It’s not clear why Williams is brought up in these discussions. To be sure, Williams is having his best season of his career and deserves to be an All-Star, although he will likely fall just shy. But theoretically, Williams is what the Cavaliers hope Isaiah Thomas can be in April and May, once he has fully fit into the offense and feels adjusted after his injury absence. It’s not that Williams wouldn’t play great with James, but he’s a duplicate talent and someone who would require assets that Cleveland barely has.
What are the odds Cleveland trades for any of them?
I believe Cleveland should trade the Brooklyn pick, and I outlined the reasons in this post. But I’m still not totally convinced that will happen, nor am I certain that any of these three players are the answer.
Let’s guess that there’s a 4.6 chance out of 10 that the Cavaliers trade for any of these three players — 4 out of 10 for Hill, 0.5 out of 10 for Jordan, and 0.1 out of 10 for Williams. But I’ll also guess that there’s an 8 out of 10 chance that Cleveland does make a trade, and a 7 out of 10 chance they trade the Brooklyn pick.
That’s all speculations and educated guesses based off what we know so far, which could change dramatically in a week or a day or just minutes. Cleveland isn’t in a good position to make trades, but they also aren’t in a good enough position to afford to not make trades, if that makes sense.
So yes, the Cavaliers are by far the most interesting team to watch as the days until the trade deadline count down.