- What names could Cleveland be pursuing at the end of the season?
Ben Golliver: Has your thinking on the Cavs changed at all? Because earlier this season you said don’t trade the pick no matter what, the risk is too high. If LeBron is going to leave next summer, you have to have that chip in your pocket. Because it’s a Brooklyn pick, it’s going to be a pretty good pick. When you look at DeAndre or Paul George, where do you draw the line? To me, sacrificing that pick to get Deandre Jordan on a rental, that’s a non-starter. That’s just not going to happen. DeAndre hasn’t been that good this season. He’s been solid, but not All-NBA First Team center, and the fit there is good but again it’s tricky because if you’re making that trade you’re making it for the Finals. Is DeAndre going to create matchup problems against Golden State in the Finals? Or is he going to be a matchup problem because he’s sort of a traditional center and has free-throw shooting issues? I wouldn’t do it there. I would still think about it for Paul George, though. What about you?
Andrew Sharp: I’m with you, man. I’m with you on both fronts. I don’t really understand why DeAndre Jordan would be so attractive to the Cavs unless their season took a turn over the next month or two and things got really dark and they were just in a situation where they needed to try anything to jumpstart the roster, then maybe you take a shot at DeAndre. But even in that scenario, I wouldn’t give up the Nets pick. I basically wouldn’t give up the Nets pick for anyone in the league, including Boogie, that’s been thrown out there a couple times. But Paul George is the one guy who would make a lot of sense to sort of gamble on and see if you can convince him to stay in June, and he’s the one guy who would have LeBron’s attention. If they get to June and July and Paul George is ready to commit to stay in Cleveland, that makes the situation so much more attractive for LeBron than it would be otherwise. They need to take that risk. I get that the Nets pick is really valuable security against him leaving, but they sort of have to go for it if George is available.
Golliver: I would really think long and hard about it. I totally understand the long-term value of the Nets pick, and when you look at the top five sort of shaping up in this year’s draft, the quality that’s there, if that pick winds up sort of in that range, maybe it’s not right now. That is a lot of motivation to keep it, but I’ve been a big fan of Paul George to Cleveland since it was first floated prior to the whole Kyrie thing, and it only makes more sense now, because you still have that same problem where somebody has to guard Durant in the Finals. Someone has to have that matchup who can help LeBron, who can take some of that pressure off. I think the more natural matchup is for Cleveland to shift LeBron on to Draymond and have somebody else do the dirty work of chasing Durant around, challenging all his shots, being a pest and all that stuff. The only guy I really see up to that task, on that elite level who’s available at all, is Paul George. And so if that means parting with your pick to really give yourself a chance to win a title this year, I would definitely think about that if I was Cleveland. No doubt.
Sharp: It’s still really early. I don’t think George is going anywhere until the 11th hour in OKC, and they’re going to have to have another 6-8 weeks of nightmarish basketball. But that’s what sort of made this such a dream, three-week stretch for Cleveland. It’s not only are they playing well, but the Thunder are sort of devolving into chaos and there’s room to dream for the Cavs. We will see where it goes, but speaking of another trade target and a guy you already mentioned: What do you think of the DeAndre Jordan situation? I’ve heard a number of people throwing him out as a really attractive trade target for team, but I guess I’m not seeing it because he’s due to make so much money this summer and you’re basically getting a three-month rental. I don’t understand why he would have that much trade value.
Golliver: Well, first of all, I do think his skill level is higher than what he’s shown so far this season just because they haven’t had their point guards there with the Clippers, and now Blake’s out so he’s just kind of a man on the island waiting for someone to throw him a capable lob pass so he can finish it. And then he’s also going to have those typical motivation issues on defense because if you’re a big guy you have to have something to play for, especially if you’re not a scoring big guy. This team doesn’t really have a ceiling with the Clippers so therefor it’s hard to ask him mask effort night after night, so I think he’s a better player than he’s shown so far this season. But you want to make sure you’ve got a lead point guard, you’ve got a lead ball handler who can make the most out of him. I do think LeBron would be able to do that. To me, I don’t see why you would even need to include a pick. If it’s DeAndre for Tristan [Thompson] straight up, beggars can’t be choosers. He’s walking out the door no matter what, I would think next summer… unless they throw him some crazy long-term offer he can’t say no to. Do you really want to do that if you’re L.A.? Isn’t that pretty fair value, just a straight up trade between DeAndre and Tristan? I don’t think it’s that far off. Tristan’s good. It would be sort of like the off-brand version for the Clippers in terms of what they did in trying to get Patrick Beverley back from the Chris Paul trade. We don’t want to create a gigantic hole so we’ll just get someone who we can use and fill minutes. I think having him under contract for multiple years would be beneficial for the Clippers. They don’t really have anyone else up front. I would consider it if I was the Clippers and I would consider it if I was the Cavaliers, too. No question.
Sharp: If you can get DeAndre without giving up the Nets pick and it’s just a straight up swap with Tristan Thompson that makes sense. And imagining the Cavs headed into the Finals with Isaiah Thomas, Paul George, LeBron, Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan. That’s insane to think about. I don’t know if that’s enough to beat the Warriors, but that’s enough to scare them more than Cleveland has over the past few years, or at least more than they did with Durant last year.
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