What Now For The Cavs? – 25th June 2017

Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers boasted the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history, overcoming a 3-1 deficit against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors. This title victory meant an almost immeasurable amount for the league; LeBron made good on his promise to the city of Cleveland, Kyrie Irving became one of the most clutch players in the NBA, the Warriors proved that the greatest record in the regular season doesn’t guarantee the chip. This season, the result was very different. The Cavs ploughed through the Eastern Conference, going 12-1 before taking on Golden State in the Finals for the third straight year. The biggest difference this year? Kevin Durant joined the Warriors. The Cavs went down in 5 games, managing to get one win in Cleveland. LeBron averaged a triple double throughout the length of the series, but it wasn’t enough to push Cleveland to their second straight title, and Golden State got their redemption for last season’s 7 game series. So what happens now for Cleveland? Golden State still have Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and are showing no signs of getting any weaker. Something’s got to change if the Cavs hope to get their title back.

Since the Cavs went down in 5, rumours have sparked surrounding various superstars making a move to Cleveland; Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, etc. And while the Cavs were making rumours, the Warriors made a move in the draft, taking rim protector Jordan Bell after buying the 38th pick for $3.5 million. Now, the Warriors have covered up their one flaw; their lack of presence in the paint when Draymond Green is off the floor. While the Warriors have basically perfected their already ridiculously good team, the Cavs made no moves in the draft, taking no picks, therefore making changes to the squad that faced a brutal defeat at the hands of potentially the greatest team in NBA history. The Cavs’ only hope to beat the Warriors, should we get a 4th straight battle between the league’s superteams, is to make some big moves in terms of picking up another superstar and just hope to match Golden State’s star power, as difficult as it would be.

The rumours that have surfaced online surrounding Paul George, have died down relatively quickly due to Kevin Love’s low trade value, which I don’t find particularly hard to believe, especially when he was to be George’s replacement in Indiana. In today’s NBA, it’s not hard to find a stretch-four, almost every team has one, which makes it less surprising that Kevin Love wouldn’t be valued too highly elsewhere. Indiana already have a stretch four in Myles Turner, who is basically a younger Kevin Love, which decreases the Cavalier’s chances of surrounding Love in a cloud of trade speculation for PG. So a trade for another superstar, which centres solely around Love, is out the question for the Cavs, and, after firing David Griffin last week, it’s going to be even harder for Cleveland to make a move big enough to match that of Golden State’s move for Kevin Durant last season.

It’s clear that a one year deal for Paul George is the answer for Cleveland, as he’s one of the few players in the league who could put up similar numbers to KD, while also having a good chance of stopping him at the other end of the floor. While there’s been doubts about the trade because of both LeBron’s and PG’s unwillingness to play at either the 2 or 4 position, two of the league’s best are likely to manage the problem in a way that would allow an already amazing team become even more amazing. The deal for PG would only be a temporary solution to solving the Golden State issue of possibly the best team of all time, as he has stated his desire to explore free agency when his contract expires in a years time, with his preferred destination being the Lakers. But a temporary solution is better than no solution, right?

There’s no doubt that a pairing of LeBron, Kyrie and PG would be an unstoppable trio, matched only in firepower by the Warriors big 3 in Steph, Klay and KD. The question for the Cavaliers is do they have the pieces to make a serious push for Paul George, can they expend some players to gain the one player they need to maybe take down the Warriors again. And the answer is yes, they absolutely do. The Cavs have the most depth in the league, matched only by last year’s Warriors’ bench, many of these players also expendable and not necessarily pieces that the Cavs need to bring the title home. The likes of Deron Williams, J.R, Smith, who was practically invisible in all but the final game of the series this year, and Derrick Williams, are all expendable and could be valuable assets in swinging the trade for George. Consider these, and throw in Kevin Love as an All-Star factor, and it’ll make it very tough for Indiana to say no, particularly when they acknowledge the fact that the Pacers could lose their superstar for absolutely nothing come the 2018 off-season.

As of this moment, I feel the only non-expendable players for the Cavs are LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Tristian Thompson, who, while was not a huge factor in their series loss to Golden State, has proved to be a valuable piece in the Cavaliers winning squad. Iman Shumpert, while is a proven defensive stopper in moments of need, lacks ability at the offensive end. Kevin Love, like I said, is almost identical to every other stretch-four in the league, and could be a valuable player in a trade package. J.R. Smith is too inconsistent to keep on the squad. So, it’s clear to me that PG to the Cavs is not impossible, and is in fact a likely scenario, but only if the Cleveland front office is willing to give up some of their depth, for a chance to take down the biggest force in the league.

 

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