LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are and absolute and utter train wreck (pun intended). Despite the fact that the Cavs sit at a comfortable 30-21, good for third in the east. This is far below their standards. For a team that has aspirations to make its third straight finals appearance, this is not enough. So now, the logical thing to do to improve is to acquire someone to put you over the hump. That person could be anyone from a superstar to someone who plays 15 minutes a game. When it comes to assets, the Cavaliers will (presumably) trade anyone but LeBron, including the Nets’ first round pick they acquired this summer. Most likely involved in a trade would be J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Isaiah Thomas, and the Nets’ pick.

Before we delve into the potential trades, what exactly is wrong with Cleveland? First and foremost, their defense is absolutely atrocious. They rank 28th in team defensive rating and 26th in opponent points per game with 109.5. Individually, they have an alarming six players (Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, J.R. Smith, Jae Crowder, Kevin Love, LeBron James) in the bottom 20 players in the NBA in defensive rating, who play 15 minutes or more per game. The Cavaliers play bad team defense, and they play bad individual defense. Cleveland is fine on offense, but giving up over 115 points in half of your last eight games won’t cut it.

Here are five players the Cleveland Cavaliers could trade for to help them right now

Marcus Smart, PG, Boston Celtics

Potential Trade Package:

Cavaliers receive Marcus Smart, Aron Baynes, Clippers 2019 first round pick

Celtics receive Nets 2018 first round pick

The Celtics have recently made guard Marcus Smart available, looking for a first round pick. The Cavs take the pick that they acquired from the Celtics, and flip it right back to them for a player who will make an impact right now. Because of how high the Nets’ pick will likely fall, the Celtics, throw in Aron Baynes, a solid, all around big who can provide valuable minutes off of the bench. Smart addresses the Cavaliers’ biggest problem: defending the point guard position.

When the Cavaliers traded for Isaiah Thomas, they knew that they were not getting a defensive guru, but they hoped his defense could be passable at best. Thomas’ shoulder injury has further exacerbated his inability to play defense. Derrick Rose has also not been much of a help there, not having the athleticism he once possessed. The point guard are routinely beat in isolations, and struggle to defend the pick and roll. Thomas and Rose have the first and third worst defensive rating in the NBA among players who play 15 minutes or more. If that doesn’t set off red flags, I do not know what will.

Smart brings not only a great defender, but a tough, physical presence on both sides of the floor, and a competitive attitude to the locker room. Smart ranks ninth in the NBA in defensive rating, and fourth in defensive win shares. Brad Stevens has done an exceptional job breeding players who want to play defense, and Smart fits that bill perfectly. He is not exactly an offensive threat; shooting 35.7% from the field and 29.9% from three doesn’t cut it from a guard, unless you bring something else to the table. A lineup of Smart, Jae Crowder, LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson brings a good mix of defense and offense, with enough three point scoring to go around.\

DeAndre Jordan, C, Los Angeles Clippers

Potential Trade Package:

Cavaliers receive DeAndre Jordan, Louis Williams

Clippers receive Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith,  Nets 2018 first round pick, Cavaliers 2018 first round pick, Cavaliers 2019 first round pick

After trading star forward Blake Griffin, the Clippers look to be in fire sale mode. The Cavaliers low balled the Clippers, offering its own first round pick, Tristan Thompson, and J.R. Smith. To make this trade more enticing, we unfortunately must add in the Nets pick, and next year’s first. The Clippers once again unload one of their stars, picking up valuable assets and picks in the process.

DeAndre Jordan will help the Cavaliers on both sides of the ball, namely defense, right away. This season, Jordan is averaging 11.5 points, 14.9 rebounds, and one block per game. Jordan provides an upgrade over Williams, and a great defensive, physical presence. Along with Jordan, Williams has been one of the best scorers in the NBA this season. The Nets pick may be enticing enough for the Clippers to throw in Williams, but if not, the Cavaliers will happily settle for Jordan.

George Hill, G, Sacramento Kings

Potential Trade Package:

Cavaliers receive George Hill, Kosta Koufos

Kings receive Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, Cavaliers 2018 second round pick

George Hill is the most likely candidate to be traded to the Cavaliers. Hill, although he has played poorly this season with the Kings, with a bottom 10 defensive rating, still has the skills to be one of the best three and D point guards in the NBA. He ranks first in the NBA in three point percentage, at an above elite 45.3%. Hill has an ok contract, which should make the Cavaliers willing to take on Koufos’ poor contract. Koufos provides veteran leadership and all around production off of the bench.

Shumpert has a small contract, and the second round pick, should make the Kings willing to take on Rose, who the Cavaliers are better off without. The Kings are a team with no direction, and will want to acquire as many picks as they can. Hill most likely will not start for Cleveland (even if he should), but will slide in as one of the best bench players in the NFL. Hill will be back into a competitive, winning environment which he thrives in, as we saw in Indiana. The Cavaliers absolutely should acquire Hill as soon as they can. The Cavaliers could also include Isaiah Thomas in this deal if they feel his value is truly that low, and desperate to deal the former All Star.

Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte Hornets

Potential Trade Package:

Cavaliers receive Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum

Hornets receive Isaiah Thomas, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Nets 2018 first round pick

The Hornets, after being trapped in a state of mediocrity, have made star guard Kemba Walker available. Walker, a borderling All Star and 27 years old, holds significant value despite not being apart of the upper echelon of NBA point guards. The Hornets will also want to unload Nic Batum, who is owed $99.1 million by the Hornets. Kemba Walker not only gives the Cavaliers an upgrade to Thomas on both sides of the ball right now, but a long term option when LeBron James inevitably leaves. Batum is not getting any younger, but is a do it all wing who is invaluable against a team like the Warriors.

The Hornets trade Batum’s bad contract for Smith and Thompson’s bad contracts, but make a net gain in the process. The Hornets are not looking to win now, and unlike the Cavaliers, can let Isaiah Thomas rest and heal fully. The Nets pick could easily turn into a future major impact player, or even a star if the Hornets hit on their pick. If Thomas can return to close to his 2016-17 form, this trade will be a major win, and a no brainer for Michael Jordan.

Aaron Gordon, PF, Orlando Magic

Potential Trade Package:

Cavaliers receive Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton

Kings receive Isaiah Thomas, 2018 Nets first round pick

Preface: this trade is all speculation. Nothing has come out about the Cavaliers having interest in Gordon, or the Magic willing to deal their best player. The Magic will do this trade if they do not feel Gordon is worth the money he will ask for this summer. Gordon will demand $20-25 million, something the Magic may not pay. They may feel comfortable starting completely over, and building around Jonathan Isaac and whoever they draft this season. This trade, in that case, makes too much sense for both teams.

Aaron Gordon is 22. For the record, he is younger than rookie sensations Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Kuzma. Gordon guards all five positions, something you need when playing the Warriors. Gordon’s three point shot has dramatically improved, shooting a respectable, career high 34.6% from three. Gordon is averaging 18.4 points, 8.3 boards, 2.2 assists, and 0.9 blocks per game. He has everything to be a perfect second option to LeBron James. Gordon doesn’t need the ball to succeed.

Elfrid Payton is nothing special on offense, but he excels on defense and is a great playmaker. Ideally, the Cavaliers do not trade Isaiah Thomas here, and have Payton come off of the bench. If they can’t put together a good enough package, he is good enough starting. Contrary to popular believe, Payton is shooting an above average 37.3% from three. Payton will be an effective secondary playmaker to James; he averages 6.2 assists on a team devoid of talent.

Any of these trade deals would help the Cavaliers ascend back to the top of the east.

Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_ and @FPC_Colts.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.