Pros and Cons of Cleveland Cavaliers Trading No. 1 NBA Draft Pick
The list of available players worth drafting at No. 1 took a hit recently when potential top pick Joel Embiid had to undergo surgery to repair a broken navicular bone in his right foot.
This essentially leaves Cleveland with two choices:
- Draft Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins.
- Trade the pick.
As with most big team decisions, there's an argument to be made for both sides.
This is that argument.
Pro: List of Interested Trade Partners
The Cavaliers also held the first overall pick last year and apparently tried to trade it, per ESPN.com.
Anthony Bennett, whom Cleveland ultimately selected, probably would have been available later had the Cavs traded back and picked up an additional player or pick.
While then-general manager Chris Grant would have swapped the 2013 pick for a sack of magic beans, the 2014 selection will be far more valuable.
New general manager David Griffin immediately began getting phone calls and trade proposals during the draft lottery, which Cleveland won despite owning just a 1.7 percent chance.
"I actually got calls right afterward, while I was standing there doing media," Griffin said via ESPN.com. "Teams were already reaching out and texting, so I think it will be an active period of time."
One of the teams interested in moving up is the Philadelphia 76ers, who may have been hurt the most following the Embiid injury news. Now down to two elite players in the draft, the Sixers are stuck in a tough spot at No. 3 overall. According to Keith Pompey of Philly.com, "the Sixers are trying to do whatever they can to draft [Wiggins]."
If Cleveland decides to make the pick available, plenty of bidders should be ready to drive up the price.
Con: No Longer Controlling Draft
Every other NBA team has its eyes set on the Cavaliers leading up to the draft.
Cleveland has complete control with its ownership of the first overall pick and could send dominoes falling in a number of different directions depending on what the team chooses to do with it.
Basically, it's a nice power to have.
Should Cleveland trade the pick to a team like Philly or Orlando, it would become one of those teams dependent on the selections of others.
With this being GM David Griffin's first time running the draft for the Cavaliers and possibly only chance of owning the first overall pick, such a rare opportunity may be too good to pass up.
Pro: High Return in Trade
Given the list of teams interested in trading up to No. 1, the Cavaliers can afford to drive up the cost of the pick.
Some have speculated, including ESPN's Chad Ford, that the Jazz would need to give up Derrick Favors and the No. 5 pick, at minimum, for Cleveland's top overall selection.
Favors is just 22 years old and could fill Cleveland's long-term void at center. The fifth pick still holds good value, where the Cavs could grab a player like Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh or even Joel Embiid.
If the Sixers come calling, Cleveland could ask for picks Nos. 3 and 10 or No. 3 and forward Thaddeus Young. An underrated power forward, the Cavs could choose to move Young in a package deal for a bigger star or keep him while dealing Tristan Thompson instead.
The Orlando Magic would also be an intriguing trade partner for the Cavs that no one seems to be discussing. Orlando has veteran wing Arron Afflalo and promising small forward Maurice Harkless. Would those two, paired with the Magic's No. 4 pick, be enough for Cleveland to consider a trade?
If the Cavs choose to make a deal, they should get a good value of picks and players in return.
That being said...
Con: Lack of Star Players Worth Trading For
...If it's a superstar the Cavaliers seek in return, they may be out of luck.
The truth is that there are no good megastars who would make sense in a trade for the No. 1 pick.
The problem with all three comes down to contracts.
As good as all three are, they become free agents or can opt out of their deals next summer. There would have to be some sort of extension agreed upon for the Cavs to risk the No. 1 pick.
While Love could be great next to Kyrie Irving, having him in Cleveland for just one season would be a waste.
The Cavaliers can still get a nice return package of picks and players should they choose to make a trade, but don't expect a superstar to be part of the deal.
Pro: Could Still Draft Joel Embiid with Less Risk
As I wrote previously, the Cavaliers shouldn't forget about Joel Embiid entirely.
If healthy, he should be the best player to come out of this draft class. His high level of play on both ends of the floor with just a few years of experience is nothing short of remarkable.
While the Cavs shouldn't risk the No. 1 overall pick on him anymore, he could still be available if they trade back a few spots.
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reached out to one Western Conference executive who said he wouldn't take Embiid before the sixth pick because, "There's too much talent in this draft to justify it."
The injury concerns are real, but so is the potential. If Cleveland wants Embiid but also wishes to protect itself, a trade would be a must.
A deal like the one involving the Utah Jazz would net the Cavs a premier player like Favors while still likely allowing them to take Embiid. Not only would Cleveland come away with a surefire starter, but if Embiid comes back healthy and strong, the Cavs and David Griffin would look like geniuses.
There's also money to take into account.
If the Cavs stay at No. 1, they'll owe Embiid roughly $14.4 million over the next three years, per RealGM.com.
Should Cleveland move back to No. 5 and still get him, the rookie salary scale states he would earn around $9.3 million over those same three years.
If the Cavaliers decide Embiid is worth the risk and still want to draft him, trading back is the best way to do it.
Con: Passing on a Star?
The biggest reason not to make a trade is quite simple.
Entering his first year as GM, Griffin may not want to risk watching Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins blossom into a star knowing he traded away the pick that could have brought one of them to Cleveland.
Of course, that pick turned out to be 2014 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
If the Cavaliers trade the pick, they have to be 100 percent confident that the return value will be more than either Parker or Wiggins would have contributed to the franchise.
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio also notes the importance of taking the right player, a decision they appear to have done a poor job of last year with Anthony Bennett.
Assuming the Cavs keep the pick, they need to determine whether Duke forward Jabari Parker or Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins is their guy. And whatever they determine, let's be honest -- they'd better not blow it. More accurately, they can't afford to blow it.
No matter who they take, no one would fault Cleveland for staying put and taking Parker or Wiggins. If either turned into a bust, could anyone honestly raise his hand and say, "I told you so"?
Staying put and making the pick would be the safe thing to do and possibly the best move for the Cavaliers.
This could be a career-defining decision for Griffin, but unless he gets a deal he absolutely can't turn down, the Cavs should stay put and keep the pick.