I’m a pretty big fan of what Chris Grant has done in his three short years as the Cavs GM; which is saying something considering that the team has a record of 64-166 over that time span. What Grant inherited after LeBron left was an old roster mostly devoid of talent and ultimately one devoid of a soul. The way back to basketball relevance was not by trying to re-tool on the fly around Mo Williams but to tear it down, lose, draft smart, and make savvy trades and signings.
Considering that Anderson Varejao is the only player under contract for next season that has ever played with LeBron is certainly a testament that Grant has flipped the roster. The losing has already been noted and the reason for that of course was to set up the Cavs with high draft picks. What Grant has done with said picks is certainly open to discussion about whether they were smart or not.
Kyrie Irving looks like a no-brainer pick now but he wasn’t at the time. There were plenty of national voices who thought that Derrick Williams would be the better pro and that the Cavs could better improve their team by pairing Williams with one of the other point guards like Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker. Ultimately though, this was a slam dunk choice.
Tristan Thompson was certainly a surprising selection and one not free of criticism. Many still wish we had Jonas Valanciunas as our post guy going forward. Others wish Grant would have selected Klay Thompson who was scorching nets earlier in the playoffs this year before vanishing in the final three games against San Antonio. I like Tristan and really enjoyed watching the progressions he made as a player last year, especially offensively. During his rookie year I was skeptical that he’d ever be much at that end but he really developed some nice moves including that seemingly un-defendable jump-stop push-shot in the lane. I’m fine with the selection of Tristan Thompson.
Even more people were upset with the drafting of Dion Waiters when it happened and have done nothing since but attempt to justify their anger by talking up players taken later. I won’t spend too much time on this now (cause I’ll be writing about it in greater detail later) but I’m a pretty fan of Dion’s game. I especially am not broken up over taking him over an overrated small forward who’s really only good when he’s playing power forward and being guarded by a defensively challenged point guard. But again…that’s a discussion for another day.
What’s most impressive about Grant’s work thus far isn’t all that though. Anybody can tear a team down and make draft picks. What’s been most impressive is the fact that Grant has turned seemingly worthless pieces into actual assets. He’ll probably never be able to duplicate turning Mo Williams into Kyrie Irving but he’s been very smart with his moves. It’s even the small things like in the Ramon Sessions trade with the Lakers how he included that little caveat about switching draft spots with the Miami pick. That seemed fairly worthless at the time but that little play moved the Cavs up 11 spots in this year’s draft.
Since Grant has made so many moves with so many odd qualifiers we thought it would be a good idea to give you a run-down of everything the Cavs have coming to them in addition to all their own future picks. (Note that not only has Grant amassed all these future selections but has retained every one of Cleveland’s choices as well.) There’s a very good chance I believe that Grant will move some of these assets in a trade or trades this offseason to try and improve the team substantially to live up to Dan Gilbert’s playoff expectations. So this is what we’ve got coming…
2013 first round draft pick from L.A. Lakers
L.A. Lakers’ 2013 1st round pick to Cleveland [From the Ramon Sessions trade; this is the aforementioned spot-swap pick]
2013 second round draft pick from Orlando
Orlando’s 2013 2nd round pick to Cleveland [Cavs drafted Justin Harper for Magic in 2011]
2014 first round draft pick from Sacramento
Sacramento’s 1st round pick to Cleveland protected for selections 1-12 in 2014, 1-10 in 2015, 1-10 in 2016 or 1-10 in 2017; if Sacramento has not conveyed a 1st round pick to Cleveland by 2017, then Sacramento’s 2017 2nd round pick to Cleveland protected for selections 56-60 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Sacramento’s obligation to Cleveland will be extinguished) [This was from the fantastic J.J. Hickson/Omri Casspi trade that has successfully benefited no one to this point. Both players were utterly terrible for their new teams and neither with be with them come next season. I wonder what the chances are of the Kings, in all their futility, actually finishing out of the bottom ten in the league over the next four years. Shockingly I don’t like our chances…but who knows? Good things come to those who wait, right?]
2014 second round draft pick from Memphis
Memphis’ 2014 2nd round pick to Cleveland [Took me a minute to remember but this was part of the rather unheralded D.J. Kennedy/Jeremy Pargo deal]
2014 second round draft pick from Orlando
Orlando’s 2014 2nd round pick to Cleveland [Also from the Harper trade…hope they like that guy]
2015 first round draft pick from Memphis
Memphis’ 1st round pick to Cleveland protected for selections 1-5 and 15-30 in 2015, 1-5 and 15-30 in 2016, 1-5 in 2017 or 1-5 in 2018 or unprotected in 2019 [This gem came along with Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, and the already-departed Josh Selby all for the indomitable John Leuer. The language of this pick is such that it puts the pick in the lottery in ’15 and ’16 if that’s where the Grizz finish. Just a savvy move. Not many GM’s had thought of this stuff until Grant started doing it.]
2015 first round draft pick from Miami
Miami’s 1st round pick to Cleveland protected for selections 1-10 in 2015 or 1-10 in 2016 or unprotected in 2017 [Fodder from the LeBron James “sign-and-trade.” How fun would it be though if LBJ came back to Cleveland and was playing for the Cavs when they got this pick from the Heat in 2015? I don’t know that it’d be ironic or poetic or anything necessarily…just fun.]
That’s a nice package of assets at Chris Grant’s disposal. There’s almost no way that they could ever actually use all those picks to draft players to play for the Cavs. Even this year with four picks in the top 33 you can bet there won’t be four new rookies on the team come training camp next fall. What Grant has to do is take these picks, along with some of the current players on the roster if need be, and make a move to bring in an All-Star type player.
From a player standpoint the Cavs don’t have a ton in the way of moveable assets. The following players are available to be included in a trade this offseason by the Cavs:
Kyrie Irving—I’ll just say right off the bat that he’s not getting traded. Anybody who would write or suggest otherwise is a moron and you shouldn’t take anything they say seriously. You cannot under any circumstances trade Kyrie. Period. End of story.
Anderson Varejao—probably the most likely candidate. Favorable salary ($9.1 M/1 yr) and the player that could most benefit a contender next year. Don’t forget how great Andy was playing last year before the injury. He was going to be an All-Star for sure. I don’t want to see Andy get traded because I believe you need quality veterans like him on the team, but if he can fetch long-term talent I’m all for anything that makes this team better.
Mareesse Speights—only if he picks up his player option, which he probably won’t. So he can’t really be considered here.
Tristan Thompson—I truly believe that he’s the most sought-after player on the Cavs outside of Kyrie for young building teams. He’s shown tremendous growth in just two years in the NBA and with his athleticism and work ethic he’s one of the Cavs most valuable pieces.
Dion Waiters—an interesting case because it seems that people may be split on opinion of Dion as a player. Some might look at him as having a lot of worth in the trade market while other teams might be less interested. I don’t want Dion to get traded because I think he has a load of talent and upside and I want to watch him and Kyrie in the backcourt together for the next ten years. But if he can be used to fetch and All-Star? Wellllll…
Alonzo Gee—I have no idea how most teams view him. I know I don’t think much of him other than a back-up who should be playing 10-15 minutes a game. His salary is favorable though ($7 M/2 yr), so some team might like him.
CJ Miles—only if the Cavs pick up the team option on his contract. Kinda the same deal with Miles as with Gee. If a team likes him he could be part of a deal, but he’s not a major asset.
Tyler Zeller—teams love bigs. Zeller had a so-so rookie year but did manage to get All-Rookie Second Team recognition. He needs to get stronger, defend better, and have more confidence in that 15-footer, but there’s definitely talent there with Zeller. Every team seems to crave 7-footers like nothing else so I could see Zeller being a piece of a trade for sure.
And that’s really it…only five players who are realistic trade assets this offseason. So look for Grant to use more of those picks in trades this offseason. I’m on record as being all in favor of trading the no. 1 pick if you can get back an All-Star player. But don’t sleep on “smaller” moves to add talent to this roster that will have a more immediate impact than future draft picks can have.Follow @ClevelandFlack