The No. 1 overall pick is theirs, after all, and on draft night it will still be one of the three most attractive trade assets in the entire league.
The Cavaliers can trade down (and stay in the lottery), trade out of the draft altogether and bag a veteran All-Star to help right away or simply keep the pick—perhaps the wisest option for a team that in recent years has been too clever for its own good (see: Luol Deng, Spencer Hawes, Andrew Bynum, Anthony Bennett, Jarrett Jack, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, etc.).
A factor in all this: Cleveland just hired David Blatt as its head coach, a heavily respected basketball mind who spent the past five years sharpening his teeth with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv. This is the type of hire that indicates the Cavs may finally accept a tempered approach, building a roster to suit their new hire’s style.
But, as we all know, flexibility is married to speculation when it comes to the NBA offseason. This relationship tends to spawn an abundance of obnoxious babies most commonly referred to as “rumors.” Which have been loudest so far, and do any make sense? And, most importantly, what should the Cavaliers do on draft night?
The wrench Embiid's injury throws into Cleveland's plan isn't as big as it seems. This is miles from a one-player draft, and the best thing Cleveland can do is take either Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker with the first overall pick.
Both are future All-Star-caliber wings who have tremendous upside and cornerstone value. Embiid is also a possibility, but selecting him risks losing out on the guarantee (or as close a guarantee as anything in a draft can bring) of a healthy, quality, possible franchise-altering player in Wiggins or Parker.
Still, the rumors are here.
Trade with Utah
Told Cavs indeed having talks w Jazz but deal being mentioned a little off. Favors, Burks, #5 and #23 in play for #1 and potentially Jack— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 24, 2014
Let's start with Utah's first reported offer, which isn't the greatest transaction for either team. First off, going from the first pick (Wiggins, Parker, Embiid) to the fifth is unnecessary for Cleveland. It complicates matters, and they wouldn't get the best player in the deal. If Embiid drops that far, great. But taking someone like Aaron Gordon at five when you can have Wiggins isn't smart.
Regarding Favors, the Cavaliers already have Bennett, Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Anderson Varejao in their frontcourt. Utah's franchise big man is about to begin a four-year, $47 million deal, which all but eliminates his value as an asset, and ruins Cleveland's possibility of signing LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony (a highly unlikely rumor provided by ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst).
Moving on, Alec Burks plays the same position as Dion Waiters and is up for a pricey contract extension this fall. He'll enter restricted free agency next summer and will eventually be in the same boat as Favors.
Waiters (or Kyrie Irving) may be on his way out of Cleveland anyway, but doing a trade like this only complicates matters for a team that needs to simplify its rebuild. Losing Jarrett Jack's contract (two years and $12.6 million guaranteed left) is a good idea, but expecting Utah to take Jack and forfeit two of its best players for the first overall pick in a deep draft makes little sense.
The Jazz would be better off keeping Favors and Burks, selecting the best player available at No. 5 (the options here will be generous) and continuing to build around their young and talented core. The second rumor mentioned is same as the first, except slightly worse in that Utah would also forfeit the No. 23 pick.
Trade with Orlando
From ESPN.com's Chad Ford (subscription required) comes word that the Orlando Magic have already offered picks No. 4, 12 and shooting guard Arron Afflalo to Cleveland for the opportunity to move up and grab the first overall pick.
Orlando offering Afflalo and two first-round picks for the first overall selection is hard to believe; it seems unlikely that a team with so many holes would be willing to give up such value for one player.
Interest around the league in Afflalo alone could net the Magic a young asset, and including him here would be a waste. If the Cavs were to accept, they'd need to reshuffle their cards a bit, add two more rookies and either move Waiters to the bench or flip him on the open market. It'd be interesting to see who they could get with the fourth pick.
Several doors opened for the Cavaliers when they won their third lottery in four years, and their future will be drastically altered no matter what decisions are made on Thursday night. Every team wishes they had Cleveland's pick, and trade offers to pry the asset away are coming in waves (even Danny Ainge has chimed in, per CSNNE A. Sherrod Blakely).
But teams that trade the No. 1 pick usually live to regret it. The Cavaliers would be wise to select either Wiggins or Parker, then establish one of the most talented young foundations in the entire league. That's also what's most likely to happen.