NBA Draft Rumors: Cavs No. 19 Pick Options including Sergey Karasev and… Paul Pierce???

So much time, energy, and words have been spent on the Cavaliers options with the no. 1 pick in the upcoming draft  that I think some people may actually be unaware that they also own the no. 19 pick. It’s for good reason; there’s so much more riding on the no. 1 pick and many people think that with the later pick Chris Grant could be targeting a foreign player who he’ll stash away overseas for a few years.

We’re just going to do a quick rundown of the guys who smart people have going to Cleveland with that no. 19 pick:

DraftExpress                      Rudy Gobert                                      International
Chad Ford, ESPN              Sergey Karasev                                 International
NBADraft.net                    Tony Snell                                           New Mexico
Matt Moore, CBS             Sergey Karasev                                 International
Gary Parrish, CBS             Allen Crabbe                                      California
HoopsWorld                       Kentavious Caldwell-Pope[1]         Georgia

There are plenty more mocks out there but you get the idea. It’s a mixed bag of guys who you probably don’t know much about. And with the International guys it’s so hard to judge because you don’t know who these players are that they are always tearing up in their YouTube videos. They could be playing rec ball for all we know. I for one have essentially given up trying to evaluate foreign players. I may or may not have written things two years ago where I may or may not have been in favor of the Cavs taking Jan Vesely. So now I just leave it up to the professionals to make those judgments.

The other reason that I think not much has been put into who the Cavs will take with the no. 19 pick is because I think there’s only about a 10% chance that they actually select a player with that pick. Chris Grant will do everything they can to trade this pick. He’ll probably explore the options to move up from that spot by combining no. 19 with nos. 31 and 33 kind of like how he did last year to get Tyler Zeller.

If the Cavs go with a big like Nerlens Noel or Alex Len with the no. 1 pick, look for them to pair that selection with a wing/guard type player later in the draft. It could be a guy like Karasev who they may actually need to move up to get. Another option would be a Shabazz Muhammad, the UCLA freshmen who came in so highly touted but failed to really impress as a top pick. He’s obviously talented and will still probably go in the late lottery so it’s not inconceivable that Cleveland could move up to get him. If Grant could figure out a way to land Muhammad with their second selection that would be a huge win in my opinion. While I don’t think any team wants Shabazz as their lead player, he’d actually be a good fit with the Cavs. They could bring him along slowly, play him off the bench and let him develop. Mike Brown could instill in him a work-ethic and understanding of team basketball. Ultimately I think Muhammad’s best spot in the pros will be coming off the bench and playing as a hybrid 3/4 player who can go down in the post in small-ball lineups kind of like what Golden State did with Harrison Barnes this season. I don’t think he’s good enough to be a starting 3 in the league on a winning team. That’s not to say he can’t develop into one but there are enough concerns about his game to wonder if it would happen. For the Cavs though that’s exactly what they’ll be looking for out of that pick. Zeller may have started a lot of games last season but that wasn’t by design. They took him to be a back-up center. And that’s likely what they’ll look for again this year. If they can come away with a wing who can play solid rotation minutes to pair with a starting big from the no. 1 pick then that would be a win for us. I don’t know if that player is Muhammad or Karasev or someone else, but that’s what Grant will most likely try to do.

And then obviously if he were take a guy like Otto Porter or Ben McLemore at the top of the draft we’d probably see them try and snag another big with the second pick. It might be tough to move up high enough to snag either Cody Zeller or Steven Adams but they could also look at Kelly “T-Rex” Olynyk.[2] Good bigs are so hard to come by so that’s why you usually see them go high in the draft. That likely won’t change this year.

Pierce 001

The other possible option is to trade that pick for a player who’s already in the league. For only the 19th pick you won’t get anything too crazy. But one scenario that Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo laid out on the BS Report last Sunday is that the Cavs could flip that pick for one year of Paul Pierce (owed $15.3 M next season).[3] Full disclosure, I hate Paul Pierce. I can’t stand his old-man game. I hate his whining for calls. I hate that smug look whenever he makes a play. His jump shot looks dumb. And he always seems to kill the Cavs so I hate him even more. With that said, I’d love him in Cleveland. This team needs a veteran presence, a guy who’s a winner and can help the young guns on the team learn what it takes to be a professional. You always hear young guys talk about how they’re working hard but I’m not sure that they always understand what “working hard” at the professional level really means. Pierce is a hard-working guy who’s managed to stay relevant as a player even as his skills have begun to deteriorate. It would only be a one-year move but Pierce’s impact in that one season could be long-lasting. We heard and saw the impact that Luke Walton had on the Cavs last year from a veteran standpoint. Pierce could bring that as well as actual on-court production that would help get the Cavs back into the playoffs.

The question with Pierce would be does he buy into helping out a young team? I typically think of Pierce as being a bit of a smug douche that only cares about himself. But again, that might just be me projecting because I dislike him as a person. Will he be a veteran leader on a rebuilding team when he’d probably rather be on a contender? I for one would be willing to give it a shot. As I broke down a couple weeks ago the Cavs have upwards of about $25 M they can spend this summer so $15 M for Pierce would be fine. The rest could then be filled in with smaller contracts. Getting Pierce on a one-year deal also allows for the flexibility to sign a bigger name guy next summer to a max contract. (Wink wink.)

Grant has a lot of options of what to do with that no. 19 pick and it will be fun to see how things unfold over the course of the draft night next Thursday. I can almost guarantee that you’ll see Grant make a move with that selection. In fact, I’d actually say that it’d be a surprise if they drafted a player at no. 19. The Cavs don’t want to bring four rookies to camp next fall. They’re in win-now mode. And that means maximizing assets. Grant’s done a great job of that thus far. Let’s hope he can do it again.


[1] HoopsWorld also had other writers who made predictions. Two had Karasev and one had Dario Saric, who actually pulled out of the draft Monday.

[2] It feels like every year there’s a big guy that gets nailed with the dreaded “short arms” label. That’s Olynyk this year. Really productive college career. Really high PER (36.57). Seven feet tall. Skilled. But short arms—only a 6’10” wingspan. Nice offensive player but probably a defensive liability. But he does hustle. So there’s that.

[3] There would probably have to be other pieces involved in this deal like the Cavs also taking on Courtney Lee or somebody like that. But the crux of the deal would be Pierce for no. 19.

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One thought on “NBA Draft Rumors: Cavs No. 19 Pick Options including Sergey Karasev and… Paul Pierce???

  1. Pingback: NBA Draft: The Value of Second Round Picks | Cleveland the GOAT

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