For the third time in four seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers season ended with a loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
While it was disappointing for many to watch the Cavaliers fail to capture another title, bigger disappointment could be on the horizon. LeBron James is set to be a free agent on July 1st, and it is believed that James may take his talents elsewhere.
This puts the Cavaliers front office in quite a predicament. They need to improve the team in order to convince James to stay, but any move would be for naught if James leaves Cleveland.
So what can the Cavaliers even do to improve their team? They have the 8th pick in the upcoming draft as well as an all-star in Kevin Love. Cleveland also has lesser players such as Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith to trade.
Yes, it would be great if combination of any of those assets could turn into Paul George, Damian Lillard or even Kawhi Leonard. However, it is unrealistic to think any of those players would wind up in Cleveland. The price is simply too steep. However, there are realistic options that the Cavaliers could pursue.
Option No.1 would be Kemba Walker. Trading for Walker would likely have to include more than just Kemba, as Charlotte would look to include the bad contract of Dwight Howard or Nicolas Batum.
Walker has averaged over 20 points per game (22.1) for the last three seasons and has also shot the ball well from beyond the arc (38.5 percent) over that same stretch. The problem for Walker is that his talent has largely gone unnoticed with the Hornets failing to establish a decent team.
What Cleveland would get with Kemba is an established point guard who would allow LeBron (if he stays) to play off the ball more. If James in fact leaves, a Walker/Kevin Love duo would give the Cavaliers a solid core to try and rebuild with.
With Kemba being the main guy on the Hornets, it has allowed him to grow into a leader. A leader is exactly what the Cavaliers need on their team. Walker is all about playing basketball and is not focused on off-the-court drama. Walker is also a durable player. He has only missed six games in the past three seasons.
This deal would make sense for both sides. Cleveland gets an established all-star and a solid role player in Batum, who when healthy is a solid “three-and-D” player. Charlotte would get Cedi Osman, a promising young player as well as a veteran in George Hill. The Hornets would also get a top-10 pick and could get a young star player like Trey Young.
Option No. 2 would be C.J. McCollum. A trade for this young shooting guard would give the Cavaliers an instant scoring threat. McCollum would also be coming back home as the sixth year guard is originally from Canton, Ohio.
McCollum is your prototypical two-guard in the NBA. He is a scorer by nature who has averaged over 20 points per game the previous three seasons. McCollum, along with Damian Lillard formed one of the better backcourts in basketball.
CJ is not just a guy who is going to throw up shots (like Jordan Clarkson often did for the Cavaliers) he is an efficient scorer. McCollum is a career 41 percent three point shooter. One thing CJ has that Kemba lacks is legitimate playoff experience. In 30 career playoff games, McCollum has scored nearly 17 points per game while shooting just under 40 percent from beyond the arc.
A trio of LeBron, Love and McCollum would definitely be an upgrade to what Cleveland had this past season. In addition to CJ, Cleveland would also acquire Al-Farouq Aminu, a solid role player who would add depth to the Cleveland front court.
Portland would acquire the rights to the 8th overall pick as well as two guards in George Hill and JR Smith who have experience and would provide depth.
Option No. 3 would be Bradley Beal. The John Wall-Bradley Beal backcourt experiment has clearly run its course. The Washington Wizards have been a team chalk full of potential and have failed time and time again to deliver.
A trade to Cleveland to potentially play alongside LeBron would be just the change of scenery that Beal may need. Beal has upped his game the past two seasons, scoring nearly 23 points per game while shooting nearly 39 percent from beyond the arc.
Beal has already shown the capability to play off the ball while in Washington and is a great secondary scoring option behind LeBron. Imagine Beal, Kyle Korver and Love on the perimeter with LeBron James driving to the hoop. Talk about having options. A new team and a chance to compete for a title would bring the best out of Beal, he is a young talent looking for his moment to shine. On the Cavaliers, Beal would get that chance.
Also swapping Tristan Thompson for Marcin Gortat would be a solid option for Cleveland. Thompson has not lived up to his contract the last few years. Yes, he has had his moments but Gortat gives the Cavaliers a legit center who has experience.
In any trade, that No. 8 pick Cleveland possesses is quite the asset. It has the potential to turn into a young star that could kickstart a franchise. This would be the case if Washington got their hands on the 8th pick. It would give them a chance to reset their team and try something new with Wall at the helm.
Any trade of this magnitude would partially right the wrong for the debacle that was the Kyrie Irving trade.
More importantly though, any trade for the Cavaliers would be a gamble due to LeBron’s impending free agency. If Cleveland can get their hands on one or two of these players, it may just be enough to persuade James to stick around and take one final run at the title.