Cavs Rumors: Rounding Up Top Buzz Entering 2020 NBA Draft Lottery

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 20, 2020

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons plays during an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Thursday marks the unofficial start of the 2020-21 season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the organization will learn where it will make its first pick in the NBA draft. 

The Cavs are tied with the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves with the best odds to land the No. 1 overall pick (14 percent) in the NBA draft lottery. 

Winning the lottery this year would mark the fourth time since 2011 that Cleveland has picked first overall. The previous results have been a mixed bag.

Kyrie Irving (2011) was instrumental in helping the franchise win an NBA championship in the 2015-16 season. Andrew Wiggins (2014) was included in the trade package for Kevin Love, who also played a key role on that title team. Anthony Bennett (2013) is one of the biggest draft busts in history. 

Here are the latest rumors involving the Cavaliers leading up to Thursday's lottery (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). 


Cavs Keeping an Eye on Ben Simmons

As the Philadelphia 76ers have sputtered through their first two postseason games, the future direction of the franchise looks very much uncertain right now. 

One rumor that has been making the rounds for a while now is that Cleveland is looking at the possibility of trading for Ben Simmons. 

Per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor, the Cavs "believe they have enough to assemble an enticing package" to offer the Sixers for their All-Star point guard. 

Fedor specifically cites "recent first-rounders" already on the roster, the lottery pick this year guaranteed to be in the top six and a future first-round pick from the Milwaukee Bucks stemming from a 2018 trade that also involved the Washington Wizards

Philadelphia's postseason shortcomings against the Boston Celtics have come without Simmons, who suffered a knee injury that required surgery on Aug. 10. 

ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported in February that Embiid is "more likely to be moved" than Simmons if the Sixers don't make a deep playoff run. 

Bontemps cited Embiid's durability concerns, though Simmons' recent back and knee issues could call into his question his long-term viability. 

Cleveland desperately needs a franchise cornerstone to build around. Collin Sexton has made strides as a scorer in his two NBA seasons, but he also averaged 3.9 assists and 2.6 turnovers per game in 2019-20. 

Simmons would give the Cavaliers a dynamic point guard who is an excellent playmaker on offense and elite defender. 

Since the 76ers are in win-now mode with their roster, Cleveland's potential trade package might not fit the organization's current plans. But an early postseason exit could force Philadelphia to dramatically alter its approach. 


Clarkson Settles into New Home

The Cavaliers got an early start on trades during the 2019-20 season by dealing Jordan Clarkson to the Utah Jazz on Dec. 24. 

Cleveland received Dante Exum and two future second-round draft picks in return. 

Clarkson had carved out a solid role off the bench during his two-plus seasons with the Cavs. He averaged 15.5 points per game and was shooting 37.1 percent from three this season before the trade.

Still, going from a team that wasn't competing for a playoff spot to a Jazz squad right in the thick of the Western Conference postseason race did represent an upgrade for Clarkson. It turns out, he's had no problem acclimating well to his new home. 

"Clarkson was happy that the Cavs traded him to the Jazz this season but apprehensive about what he might find there, and he’s loved the experience, too," per The Athletic's Joe Vardon.

Clarkson is in the final year of a four-year, $50 million extension he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in July 2016. There was no reason for the Cavs to pay his $13.4 million this season given the state of their roster. 

Vardon noted the entire Jazz organization "loves" Clarkson, with one person calling him the "realest motherf--ker we have."

Even though it wasn't a blockbuster deal, it did benefit both organizations. Cleveland saved money, and Exum played well in a limited role off the bench, shooting 35.1 percent on three-pointers in 24 games. 

Clarkson was Utah's third-leading scorer during the regular season with 15.6 points per game. Only Donovan Mitchell (24.0 points per game) and Bojan Bogdanovic (20.2) scored more for the Jazz.