With the NBA trade deadline just days away, the team under the brightest spotlight once again is the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After one of the most embarrassing performances of the year Saturday against Houston, it is now painfully obvious the team is in a world of trouble. The defense is ranked 26th in the league, allowing 109.5 ppg. Teams are shooting a sky-high 54.1 percent against them.
The question, of course, is how they improve this mess. With their nightmarish cap situation, it was believed they may have to do so via a trade.
However, making an impact trade that will put them in position to compete for a championship – and keeping LeBron James in Cleveland this summer – might be near impossible at this point.
This was proved by the lackluster package they were reportedly willing to offer the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick. Amick reports that Cleveland is only willing to offer their own 2018 first-round pick (not the Brooklyn pick) and “unwanted” contracts.
While the package they are willing to offer at first glance seems cheap, that is actually the best they can offer at this time. What else could they even include in a package that is desirable to a team? Kevin Love is the definition of untradable with a laundry list of injuries to go along with a dreadful contract. Isaiah Thomas is coming off a serious hip injury, is playing very poorly in a contract year, and cannot guard 85 percent of the league. The rest of the roster is filled with a bad combination of injury history, age, talent, and potential.
Amick writes that Cleveland is trying to get rid of the awful contracts of both Tristan Thompson (two years, $36 million remaining) and J.R. Smith (owed $14.7 million next season). To make it even more frustrating in Cleveland, both of the contracts were offered in large part due to (player/head coach/GM) LeBron James’ wishes.
Cleveland’s latest “package” proves that they are essentially stuck and can forget about bringing in a marquee player this season. They will even struggle to strike a deal to bring in an average, rotation player.
If (official) GM Koby Altman wants to make any sensible move before Thursday, he may have to part ways with the Brooklyn pick, but with the uncertain future of LeBron this summer, that would not be a logical move long-term.
As it currently stands, it seems only slightly realistic the slumping, mess of a defense known as the Cleveland Cavaliers will be able to turn this around.