Opposing exec 'strongly' doubts Cavs will keep No. 5 draft pick

Sam Amico

It's too early to say what the Cleveland Cavaliers have planned for the draft, but one opposing executive insists he has a pretty good idea.

"They don't want that (No.5 overall) draft pick," he told SI.com. "I don't know that for certainty -- but I've spoken to enough people over there that I know they don't really want to bring in another young unknown.

"I strongly believe they will end up trading it."

The Cavaliers are coming off a second consecutive 19-win season. They were not part of the NBA's 22-team restart in Orlando and the news only got worse in the draft lottery. Despite owning the worst record in all of the East, the Cavs failed to land a top-three pick ... again.

According to the opposing exec (and several other SI sources), Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has made one thing clear as he continues to recover from a May 2019 stroke -- he wants the Cavs to start winning some games and generating interest.

"From my understanding, Mr. Gilbert is starting to put the pressure on (Cavs GM) Koby Altman and the front office," the opposing exec told SI. "There's no ultimatum or deadline, as far as I know. But I think there's a sense that it's time to start making the playoffs and showing signs of progress."

The Cavs started a second-year player in Collin Sexton and rookie in Darius Garland in the backcourt for most of this past season. Rookie guard Kevin Porter Jr. became one of their key reserves and the team continues to wait for the debut of injured 2019 first-round pick Dylan Windler.

So the team already has plenty of youth, as the opposing exec mentioned.

"It's one thing to be young and exciting," he told SI. "I'm not sure the Cavs are there. They are young. I don't think they want to move forward by adding more youth. You win in this league with veteran players."

When asked about a rumor that the Cavs would have an interest in Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons if he were to become available, the opposing exec told SI it would be a no-brainer.

"Of course they would, and they would be able to offer as good of a package as anyone else," he said. "I'm guessing (Simmons) is the type of player they want, as opposed to another draft pick -- young, proven, would sell jerseys and win games."

The exec paused, then laughed.

"Cavs fans would probably love to see Simmons throwing those lobs to (Andre) Drummond and Larry Nance Jr.," he said.

Uncertainty surrounds the entire draft at the moment. NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently said he doesn't even know when next season will begin, though the target remains December.

So many around the league seem to believe the draft, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 16, still will be held before Nov. 1 if it is moved.

"I think they have an interesting team with a lot of assets and options," the opposing exec said of the Cavs. "I'm not just saying that, either. I think they can make a quick turnaround with the right offseason plan."

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