Nerlens Noel who?
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, that's exactly what the Cavaliers are considering right now.
Cleveland has a superstar on the rise in Kyrie Irving and a boatload of financial flexibility moving forward. As such, the Cavs are in a position to wheel-and-deal their hearts out.
They have an obvious need up front and at the small forward slot, and their pick would prove valuable in filling either of those needs with an established player.
Which players should the Cavs inquire about and what will they need to relinquish to get them?
Note: All salary information was compiled from HoopsHype.com unless otherwise attributed.
Here's what you need to know before we move forward:
Proposed trades were unable to go through the ESPN Trade Machine because that system is still operating under salaries from the 2012-13 season. Any accords suggested here are based off a player's 2013-14 salary.
All trades have been vetted through information from Larry Coon's CBA FAQ and fill any financial requirements/limits the NBA has set.
Trading Draft Picks
Draft picks themselves are worth no money in trades. Once the players are drafted and sign, they count against the cap. When they're traded without a name/contract attached, they do not count toward salary-matching purposes. They're just the pick.
For all sign-and-trades, the player who signs has been given an estimated maximum value. For some reason, if he were to net more and it exceeds the maximum incoming salary of the team he's being traded to (see below), the parameters of said deal would have to be reworked.
Players who have "player options" will not be included in deals as we have no way of knowing if they would agree to exercise said options if traded. Any players with "team options" are eligible to be traded because the team has the ability to keep them on the payroll.
For example, should the Cavaliers trade C.J. Miles, who has a team option for $2.2 million next season, we're going on the assumption Cleveland would exercise the option so it may execute the trade.
Incoming/Outgoing Salaries for Non-Taxpaying Teams
Below is a chart that details what non-taxpaying teams can receive based on what they send out. Information was taken from Coon's FAQ.
|Outgoing Salary||Maximum Incoming Salary|
|$0 to $9.8 million||150% of the outgoing salary, plus $100,000|
|$9.8 million to $19.6 million||The outgoing salary plus $5 million|
|$19.6 million and up||125% of the outgoing salary, plus $100,000|
*Note: Maximum incoming salary must not put a non-taxpaying team over the tax limit, otherwise it would be held to the standard for taxpaying teams.
Incoming/Outgoing Salaries for Taxpaying Teams
Below is a chart that details what taxpaying teams can receive based on what they send out. Information was taken from Coon's FAQ.
|Outgoing Salary||Maximum Incoming Salary|
|Any||125% of outgoing salary, plus $100,000|
*Note: All projected taxpaying teams will show in italics, so you know which calculation needed to be used.
How information will be shown
Below is an example of how the trades will be shown so that you may better understand any calculations, information taken into account, etc.
Team X receives (maximum incoming salary): Player (2013-14 player salary) and (any other players/necessary draft picks)
Team Y receives (maximum incoming salary): Player (2013-14 player salary and (any other players/necessary draft picks)
The combined salaries of every player each team is receiving should never exceed that of the maximum incoming salary each team is allowed to take in.
Again, all suggested trades have been calculated using information from the charts above and are going off the assumption that all teams (non-taxpaying and taxpaying) are executing these trades before the draft, meaning they haven't had time to use mid-level or bi-annual exceptions or anything else that would affect the maximum incoming salary ceiling we've calculated.
Chicago Bulls Receive ($16.7 million): PF Kevin Love ($14.7 million)
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive ($17.1 million): SF Luol Deng (14.3 million) and ninth pick in 2013 NBA draft (via Minnesota)
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive ($22.2 million): SG C.J. Miles ($2.2 million), C Anderson Varejao ($9.1 million), first pick in 2013 NBA draft (via Cleveland) and 20th pick in 2013 NBA draft (via Chicago)
According to Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk, Kevin Love and Flip Saunders are off to a good start in Minnesota, but with the threat of him leaving in two years' time for a bigger market, the Timberwolves don't have much time to turn things around.
Anderson Varejao would give them a presence up front for the next year (two if they pick up his option in 2014) who can replace much of Love's rebounding, and that first pick could be used to select Nerlens Noel, a center of the future.
With Nikola Pekovic set to explore restricted free agency, this allows the Timberwolves to stay strong up front without committing any long-term money to Pek.
Noel, Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved give them a nice core to build around, while that 20th pick could be used to draft the shooter and scorer they would still need.
The Bulls get a star stretch-forward who would thrive alongside Derrick Rose in Love. He only adds rebounding to their dynamic and injects a much-needed offensive punch.
Deng is a valued commodity in Chicago, but Jimmy Butler is more than capable of handling the full-time small-forward duties.
With Love, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer on the same team, I'd suggest Chicago have Boozer come off the bench while trying to relieve themselves of Taj Gibson's suddenly uncomfortable contract. Boozer is at a point in his career where he doesn't need to be a starter. He's paid like one, but he's no longer an All-Star.
Amnestying Boozer would also be an option, though he'd be a nice scorer and rebounder coming off the pine.
Cleveland gets the small forward it needs in Deng, who has proven he can play at an All-Star level when healthy. It also gets that ninth pick, which could be used in conjunction with its 19th pick in another trade to land a big man or simply to fill needs via the draft.
This trade does leave the Cavaliers small, but they played on without Varejao last season, not to mention that they still have the cap space to sign a big man and those two draft picks to either trade or use themselves.
With Deng next to Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson, the Cavs would definitely contend for a playoff spot next season. Plus, they wouldn't have compromised any of their cap space in 2014 to do it.
Atlanta Hawks Receive ($24.1 million): SG C.J. Miles ($2.2 million), C Anderson Varejao ($9.1 million) and first pick in 2013 NBA draft (via Cleveland)
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive ($17.1 million): F Josh Smith ($16 million [estimate]), 17th pick in 2013 NBA draft (via Atlanta) and 18th pick in 2013 NBA draft (from Atlanta via Houston)
Josh Smith wants a max contract, and we're going on the assumption he comes close to getting it.
His $16 million salary is just an estimate. It could be lower based on how his contract is structured. It could also be higher, though the Cavs can only take back up to $17.1 million in payroll giving up the players listed above.
Smith would provide Kyrie Irving with a two-way superstar sidekick. He can play either of the forward positions and is a beast on the glass and defensive end in general.
Once again, the Cavaliers are left incredibly small, but with three (yes, three) top-20 picks in this year's draft, they have the opportunity to find a big or use any combination of those as trade fodder for one.
While this doesn't eliminate all of the cap space Cleveland can have leading into the summer of 2014, one has to wonder if LeBron James would want to play with Smith. They play the same position, and though LeBron is more of a point forward, things could get dicey.
Cleveland can't plan around LeBron, though. If it's not high on Nerlens Noel, there are worse options than the one outlined here.
Speaking of Noel, the Hawks would love him. Down the road, he would allow Al Horford to shift to power forward, where Atlanta prefers him to play.
Meanwhile, Varejao presents a nice buffer. Not only is he a double-double machine, but he allows Horford to play the 4 immediately.
Pulling the trigger on this deal means the Hawks would have given up on landing Dwight Howard this summer during free agency, which isn't ideal. But let's face it, he's not going there anyway.
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive ($14.7 million): PF Kevin Love ($14.7 million)
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive ($22.2 million): C Anderson Varejao ($9.1 million) and first pick in 2013 NBA draft (via Cleveland)
Would Cleveland say no to Kevin Love? Absolutely not.
Yet again the Cavaliers would be depending on Tyler Zeller at center by shipping out Anderson Varejao and bringing back just Love, but they have the cap space necessary to get bigger through free agency if they wish. Ultimately, acquiring another All-Star in Love would be too good to pass up.
In the interest of full disclosure, Cleveland may or may not have to pick up the team option on C.J. Miles and send him to Minny too. Love's salary perfectly matches that which the Cavs are allowed to take back, but when broken down to the nearest dollar, an additional body could be required.
We find ourselves continuing to go on the assumption that the Timberwolves are at least willing to hear Love offers, and why not? When the first overall pick is involved, you have to listen.
Varejao allows Minnesota to part ways with Nikola Pekovic if he prices himself out of its range, which is possible. The Timberwolves don't bleed green like Los Angeles or New York and may much rather pay Varejao $9 million for a year or two than pay Pek $40-$50 million over four or five—especially when Nerlens Noel could be in the waiting.
Now, Minnesota could use that first pick to go after a player like Trey Burke, but it's worth noting that the team is able to hold onto its ninth pick here. Selecting Noel first and then using the ninth pick to net a shooter or scorer would make for some nice rebuilding.
Would Love and Kyrie Irving, along with Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller get the Cavs back in the playoffs next season?
If Irving and Love stay healthy, absolutely. They would also make Cleveland a more enticing destination for prospective free agents in 2014.
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive ($17.1 million): PF LaMarcus Aldridge ($14.1 million)
Golden State Warriors Receive ($17.5 million): PF Ryan Anderson ($8.3 million) and 19th pick in 2013 NBA draft (via Cleveland)
New Orleans Pelicans Receive ($12.6 million): C Anderson Varejao ($9.1 million)
Portland Trail Blazers Receive ($21.2 million): PF David Lee ($13.9 million), SG C.J. Miles ($2.2 million) and first pick in 2013 NBA draft
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Cavaliers have privately had discussions (fantasies?) about trading for LaMarcus Aldridge. So, how about we try and get them Aldridge?
Portland is looking for another big man, since it's preparing to let J.J. Hickson walk (via The Oregonian). Parting ways with Aldridge obviously isn't ideal, but the Blazers would be acquiring a two-time All-Star in David Lee who has the inside-out prowess necessary to succeed alongside, say, Nerlens Noel.
With Noel out for the start of the season, this deal wouldn't exactly make the Blazers winners now, but they would hold onto that 10th pick of theirs, giving them plenty of building blocks for the future.
Why would the Warriors trade Lee? Well, they proved they can make a deep playoff run essentially without him and might be better off going small long term.
Watching Harrison Barnes play the 4 was a thing of beauty. Ryan Anderson improves that same floor-spacing dynamic and would have no issue coming off the bench behind Barnes. Golden State would also move into the first round and could perhaps strike gold once again.
This paves the way for the Warriors to try and keep Carl Landry if they so choose. It also opens up some extra minutes for Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green.
Selling this to the Pelicans might be difficult. Anderson was sensational for them this past season. That said, they need a more potent post presence and Anderson Varejao is a double-double machine. Alongside Anthony Davis, and with Robin Lopez then coming off the pine, New Orleans would be an interior force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball.
Another reason the Pelicans would entertain this deal is that it's easier for it to find a scorer in the top six of the draft than it would be to find a big. A tower like Alex Len is intriguing, but he's a project. Drafting someone like Otto Porter or Victor Oladipo doesn't present as many risks.
There's no question Cleveland does this trade, though. Aldridge is an All-Star to pair alongside Kyrie Irving, and he is sure to help lead them back to the playoffs in 2014.
Along with Irving, he would be able to convince another star to sign with the Cavs the following summer as well.
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive ($13.8 million): C DeMarcus Cousins ($4.9 million) and G Jimmer Fredette ($2.6 million)
Sacramento Kings Receive ($11.4 million): C Anderson Varejao ($9.1 million) and first overall pick in 2013 NBA draft
Even without the Maloofs dragging him down, DeMarcus Cousins could use a fresh start. Trade rumors continued to follow him this past season. While the Kings refused to move him, new ownership may not shy away from a clean slate of its own.
Cousins presents a risk for the Cavs, but so does drafting Nerlens Noel (assuming they go that route). Not-so-deep down, we all know Cousins is a future All-Star. In the Eastern Conference, he might even become one next season.
Kyrie Irving also gives Cousins the direction he never had. Though younger, Irving is an unquestioned leader and someone Cousins can defer to. Not being held to such a high standard would alleviate some of the pressure he's currently under and allow him to blossom in a stress-free environment.
Jimmer Fredette isn't a throw-in, either. The Kings misused him these last two years. He could serve as the scoring punch off the bench Cleveland doesn't really have. He's also an option as a backup point guard.
Anderson Varejao doesn't necessarily make the Kings better, but he's a savvy veteran who can put points on the board and bring in more rebounds than they could count. He also serves as a nice buffer (and potential partner) for Noel, whom I would recommend the Kings draft with that first pick.
Don't underestimate Sacramento holding onto that seventh pick, either. It's there that the Kings could find value at point guard—specifically, someone other than Isaiah Thomas to steer the ship.
Does this accord get the Cavs back in the playoffs next season? Debatable. But it certainly puts them in contention.