The Isaiah Thomas Trade and Cavs Options
So now that the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade has gone through, lets take a look at what happened and what the options are going forward. Oh, and I'm going to go waaaaaaay out on a limb here with a scenario I like.
First of all, I think the Cavs won the trade. Yes, I understand that Kyrie is better than Isaiah Thomas. And the biggest gap is probably on the defensive end where Thomas is one of the worst defensive guards in the league. Offensively, I think they are pretty similar, as you will see this year when Kyrie is not as effective without Lebron to get him easy shots and bring defenses away. Then, the Cavs get Jae Crowder who is a really underrated player. He is a good defender and can knock down open shots while being a guy who plays really hard. I know the Cavs got another player and a second round pick, but for arguments sake those aren't that great. The other big part is the first round pick from the Nets. I think the Nets will be a little better this year, but that pick still has a lot of value as it should be in the top 10. So nothing I have said here is new or interesting, so lets get on to the good stuff.
Scenario 1: Cavs go for it. This is the most likely scenario but the one I like the least from the Cavs perspective. Lebron is a free agent after this year, and so is Isaiah Thomas. It appears that Lebron is leaving and that will probably mean that Thomas leaves as well. So if Cleveland is going to go all in this year, they might as well really go all in and try and win it and hope that will keep Lebron. We all know that at the end of the day the most important thing to Lebron at this point is winning rings. This is why I still don't see him going to the Lakers (see previous article), but moving somewhere else in the East where the path to the Finals is much easier. So I think that if the Cavs could find a way to win the title this year, that might be enough to get Lebron to resign. With rumors that the Pelicans might be interested in trading the pick and Iman Shumpart for Demarcus Cousins, in this "go for it" scenario, I say do it without hesitation. Cousins can score and defend, and hopefully playing with Lebron can keep him from blowing up every game. Cousins could be running out of chances for a contender to sign him knowing his track record, and playing with Lebron puts everyone in a better light. With this roster, Cleveland would definitely be making a trip back to the NBA finals. With Cousins and Thomas and Lebron, and the rest of the supporting cast...Love, Thompson, Smith, Crowder, and D-Rose, they will be deeper than they have been in years and will be able to score. If Lue can get them to defend, and defend Golden State, they would have a real shot at a title. I know its a lot of ifs, especially with Thomas' health, but I think that could keep Lebron. And don't forget if they got real close, there are other free agents next summer including Russell Westbrook, who might be looking to join a team making a run at a title.
Scenario 2: Cavs break it up and rebuild. This is what I would do if I was Cleveland's upper management. Yes scenario 1 could happen, but Lebron could still leave. So instead, look at the blueprint of the Celtics and start over. Cleveland has a ton of assets and a bunch of guys that teams looking for that one more guy would be interested in. So lets play it out. First they keep the pick from the Nets and hope it ends up being a high pick. Then they trade Isaiah Thomas. I don't know what they will get for him now, but later in the season, near the trade deadline, if he is healthy, they could get a solid young player and a pick. Now what Boston did was stockpile picks and young players. So the most important part is to not only get picks, but to get young players who are in new contracts that you can keep around for a few years while you build. Then you trade Kevin Love. He has to go. In my opinion he has been a disappointment as a glorified spot up shooter who can't defend on the perimeter. If you could tell anyone that they could have Andrew Wiggins back for K-Love, I think everyone would do it. Again, you may not get a ton for him, but especially near the trade deadline, a team in contention could get rid of a solid young player to try to win now. Then I would trade off Tristan Thompson. He is well respected as one of the top offensive rebounders in the league while also being an active defender. Remember, stockpile picks, trade to bad teams that will continue to be bad as well as getting young players.
Now here is the fun part. And those of you that know me know how much I love Lebron. And as I watch him and what he does, I see his desire to win a ring. I know that Lebron has a no trade clause and I know he said he would not waive it no matter what. But if I was Cleveland, I would test his word. If you trade off everybody, and Cleveland is a team with no players and stockpiling draft picks clearly in rebuild mode, I think Lebron may waive it. He may only waive for a few teams, but I bet those teams would trade A LOT to get Lebron James. Because everyone thinks that if they can get Lebron AND win a ring, that would be the magic formula to keeping him. So imagine what you could get for him. A teams first round pick for not 2, not 3, not 4 more years? Any young player they have, like Giannis, or Porzingus, or what about Wiggins and Towns and 2 first round picks. Is Minnesota saying no to that? What about Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, and every pick Ainge has left? How would that flip the league around. What if Cleveland asked for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and the Lakers next two first round picks. Are the Lakers saying no to that? I don't think so. There are so many options to start over, but start over with great young talent and draft picks.
If you have made it this far, then you are intrigued, so I have one more thought. And its so impossible it makes me giddy. Lebron waives his no trade clause for Golden State. The Cavs do a sign and trade with Golden State for Klay and Draymond (Klay would be the resigner not Lebron). Lebron goes to Golden State for one year and wins a ring. He then flips them the bird and comes back to Cleveland with a much stronger roster having decimated the Golden State roster. That would be my favorite scenario.