5 Star Players Cleveland Cavaliers Could Target by Trading No. 1 Pick
The trade offers for the Cleveland Cavaliers' 2014 No. 1 overall pick began before general manager David Griffin was done talking with the draft lottery media.
While the Cavs aren't openly shopping the pick, Griffin told ESPN.com, "We're going to be open-minded to whatever it is that advances our cause the furthest."
With three potential franchise players at the top of the draft, Griffin will likely be fielding phone calls all the way up until June 26 if he should so choose.
This author's personal preference would be to hold on to the pick and select Joel Embiid, although any of the following five players would be intriguing as well.
If teams continue to come a-calling, here are five star players whom Cleveland should be targeting.
Al Horford, C, Atlanta Hawks
2013-14 Season Stats: 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 blocks (29 games)
Al Horford is one of the game's best overall centers when healthy but is coming off surgery for a torn pectoral muscle. A recent report from The Associated Press (via ESPN.com) suggests that Horford is progressing nicely and will be ready for training camp this fall.
Cleveland needs to find its center for the future with Anderson Varejao now 31 and entering the last year of his contract. Tyler Zeller is still unproven, and Spencer Hawes will become an unrestricted free agent this July.
Horford is still just 27 and should be entering the prime of his career. He's a two-way center who can score, rebound and block shots, plus he shoots a high percentage (54.1 percent from the field for his career).
Owed a very reasonable $24 million over the next two seasons, Horford could anchor the center position in Cleveland for years to come. The Cavaliers won't trade the first overall pick straight up for anyone coming off surgery, which is where other picks and players come into play.
Cavaliers Receive: Al Horford, No. 15 pick in 2014
Hawks Receive: No. 1 pick, Tyler Zeller
Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies
2013-14 Season Stats: 14.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 blocks
Despite Gasol's lack of athleticism, it's hard to find a fault in his game. The 29-year-old center can post up, shoot, find the open man, defend the rim and captain a defense. The Memphis Grizzlies were 40-19 with Gasol in their lineup this past season, compared to 10-13 without him.
Given the chaos going on internally with the Grizzlies, Gasol may be easier to acquire than some might think. Since he's only signed through next season, an extension would likely have to be in place for Cleveland to agree to a trade.
Cavaliers Receive: Marc Gasol, Quincy Pondexter
Grizzlies Receive: No. 1 pick, Carrick Felix
Kevin Love, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves
2013-14 Season Stats: 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 0.5 blocks
What potential list of trades would be complete without a mention of Mr. Love?
A team with Irving and Kevin Love would be tough to stop, even if it did give up an ungodly amount of points.
Love is not only a ridiculous scorer and rebounder, but also one of the game's best passing big men. His outlet passes to Irving would be things of beauty on a nightly basis. While the Minnesota Timberwolves have balked at trading Love in the past, the offer of a No. 1 pick in a star-laced draft like this may be just what they need to pull the trigger.
Cleveland would require some reassurance that Love would either re-sign or simply choose not to opt out of the last year of his contract in 2015-16.
While it's not likely to materialize, one can't rule out Love in Cleveland just yet.
Cavaliers Receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger
Timberwolves Receive: No. 1 pick, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson
Derrick Favors, F/C, Utah Jazz
2013-14 Season Stats: 13.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.5 blocks
The No. 3 pick of the 2010 NBA draft, Favors has blossomed into a defensive force who uses his size and athleticism to both protect and finish at the rim.
What should make him even more appealing to a team such as the Cavs is that Favors is under contract for the next four years at around $49 million after signing an extension with Utah last fall.
Cleveland could also ask for the No. 5 overall pick, swingman Gordon Hayward in a sign-and-trade or forward/center Enes Kanter to round out the deal.
Cavaliers Receive: Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward (via sign-and-trade)
Jazz Receive: No. 1 pick, Sergey Karasev
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland Trail Blazers
2013-14 Season Stats: 23.2 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 blocks
Probably the least likely of this bunch to actually be traded, one shouldn't rule out a deal for LaMarcus Aldridge completely.
Despite coming off a successful season that saw his Trail Blazers advance to the second round of the playoffs, Aldridge will be entering the last year of his deal in Portland. Keep in mind that Aldridge has reportedly asked to be traded in the past, per the Portland Tribune's Kerry Eggers. It's worth noting that this request came last summer, and there's been no word publicly of wanting out since.
If for whatever reason Aldridge decides he wants a change of scenery again, the Cavs would definitely be interested in the 28-year-old forward.
It may take some extension talk first, but Cleveland should have Aldridge as one of its top trade targets due to his elite offensive game, solid rebounding and leadership.
Cavaliers Receive: LaMarcus Aldridge, Mo Williams
Trail Blazers Receive: No. 1 pick, Tristan Thompson
Salary numbers via ShamSports.com.
Stats via ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.