Amico: Cavs Trade of Clarkson Rushed, Brings Nothing in Return
CLEVELAND -- This isn't an indictment of Cavaliers GM Koby Altman. I generally think he gets more right than wrong.
I liked the coaching hire of John Beilein over the no-names that were also being considered. I liked the picks of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in the draft. I have even liked Altman's wheeling and dealing at the trade deadlines.
But Monday's move that sent Jordan Clarkson to Utah stinks to high hoops heaven.
In return for Clarkson, the Cavs received Dante Exum and two second-round picks. Exum has been a total bust since the Jazz drafted him with the No. 5 overall pick in 2014. Major injuries to his knee and shoulder have robbed him of his potential. He is no longer explosive. He isn't very strong. His skills seem better suited for the minor leagues or overseas.
Clarkson is averaging 14.6 points; Exum is averaging 2.2 and was entirely out of Utah's rotation.
Along with all that, second-round picks don't usually result in much. The Cavs received a 2022 second-rounder that actually belongs to San Antonio and a 2023 second-rounder from Golden State in the trade.
So in summary, the Cavs got a non-NBA player and two future non-NBA players for Clarkson, one of the league's top scorers off the bench.
I understand the Cavs' desire to trade Clarkson and move some of the veterans for young talent.
Clarkson has an expiring contract. He's been especially good off the bench this season. We all know players tend to be a little more focused and consistent in contract years -- and that's been Clarkson. He scored a season-high 33 points in his final game as a Cavalier.
Altman and the Cavs didn't want to lose Clarkson for nothing at the end of the season. It would have been tough to re-sign him. He is a nice scorer, but the Cavs were doomed to overpay Clarkson in free agency. He might have even taken less to go to a contender.
Basically, the Cavs and Clarkson were going to part ways in June or July. From that standpoint, a move makes a lot of sense.
But what was the rush?
That's what I keep asking myself. The NBA trade deadline isn't until Feb. 6, almost six weeks away.
Did the Cavs really feel gifting Clarkson to the Jazz was the best deal they could get? Maybe it was, but I strongly doubt it.
And even if so, just keep Clarkson then. Watching him play was one reason for fans to walk in the building. That too is something the Cavs are lacking.
EYES ON THE FUTURE
Now, the trade of Clarkson also means more minutes for the likes of Sexton, Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. That can only be a good thing. In another season of development, Beilein is determined to play the young guys and let them take their lumps.
But that doesn't erase the fact the Cavs could have and should have held out for something better. It was clear the Jazz wanted Clarkson. You can't blame them. He will be an excellent fit behind the likes of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley Jr. in the backcourt.
The Jazz had high expectations entering the season, but have been shaky so far. Clarkson will give their postseason goals an instant boost.
So if the Jazz only wanted to give up Exum and two second-rounders, the Cavs could have waited. That steal of a Utah deal would still be sitting there in February. Why not look around a little more, hold out and take a stand?
I can't comprehend making this trade now and almost guarantee I never will. You can talk all you want about clearing cap space, that the Cavs are going to use the money and future picks in another deal ... blah, blah, blah.
It could have waited.
The Cavs are also going to explore trading their remaining expiring contracts -- Tristan Thompson, John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova and Brandon Knight. They won't trade them all, but you can be sure at least one will be moved. The same could be true with Kevin Love. This season, anything is possible.
Let's just hope they get something back in those potential trades. Because in the trade of Clarkson, the Cavs got nothing but a lump of coal and there is no other way to spin it.