Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t exactly facing desperate times, but they sure seem to be breaching that territory.
Cleveland is on a four-game slump, getting boat-raced by teams which will likely be watching the playoffs at home next spring. The defense has been an atrocity. The Cavs, as a whole, look ancient.
While you still can’t panic this early, the team is definitely considering some desperate measures to get things on track before this season gets too ugly. This explains why coach Tyronn Lue was up early this morning working with rookies Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic, hinting he might start playing these two despite their doing nothing but collect dust on the bench this year.
As the Cavs continue looking for ways to shake out of this funk, there’s one move they shouldn’t even be remotely considering at this point in the season. No matter how ugly things get, Cleveland – specifically GM Koby Altman – cannot even begin to start thinking about trading the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick.
This isn’t to say the Cavs shouldn’t be testing the waters in the trade market. Altman should always be kicking the tires to see if there’s a deal he can make to help this team. A new player or two, specifically one who can help defensively, could go a long way towards Cleveland getting its act together.
At the same time, the Brooklyn pick – acquired in the blockbuster trade of Kyrie Irving – needs to remain untouchable. Especially this early in the year.
Remember, this draft pick was a big reason why many felt Cleveland got the better end of the Irving deal. It’s seen by many as one of the most coveted assets on the trade market. While the Nets aren’t expected to be as miserable as usual this year, the odds still favor their selection landing high in a very top-heavy 2018 draft.
Said pick is also seen as insurance in Cleveland.
Nobody knows for sure if LeBron James is sticking around past this season. Should he indeed skip town, the Brooklyn pick could help ensure the rebuild isn’t nearly as torturous as it was the last time he departed. Should he stay, it can be used as a big trade asset to potentially deal for another quality player who can help the team beyond this year.
So far, Altman hasn’t been tempted to test the market for the Nets pick. However, this was before the start of this nasty slump. Before his team looked slow and old, unable to defend a three-point shot to save its life.
Because of this development, it’d be understandable for Altman to get antsy. This could cause one of two things to happen, both bad. He could get too eager to make a deal and send the pick away for uneven returns. Or, worse yet, he could trade the pick for a player who’s both talented but also on an expiring contract.
It goes without saying either move would be a huge blunder.
This is an asset the team can’t afford to burn on an above average bench player. Teams had been trying to pry the Brooklyn pick away from the Boston Celtics for years before it was eventually sent to Cleveland, proof of how valuable it is. Wasting it on someone who might help a struggling Cavs team eight games into the season would be an epic waste.
Worse, if Altman were to flip it for someone on an expiring contract – DeMarcus Cousins for example – it could be disastrous. The idea of James leaving again is already enough to cause anxiety within the front office. To burn your best asset on another player who can flee this summer could set this franchise back something awful.
Again, Altman should certainly be testing the market to see if he can find a way to get the Cavs out of their funk. However, despite how many times he’s asked about it, the Brooklyn pick needs to stay off limits unless it’s a blockbuster deal which helps Cleveland beyond just this year. The Cavs can ill-afford to throw away their best asset in a panic move.