With less than 24 hours to go until the NBA trade deadline, it’s looking increasingly like Cleveland can do nothing to significantly improve its roster. Tyreke Evans? George Hill? These are futile attempts to put a band-aid over a wound that needs two dozen stitches. Perhaps they do something dramatic that sounds big – Kemba Walker and Nic Batum? – but with Paul George playing incredibly in OKC, there isn’t a certifiable star who can come in and save the day.
But the main reason LeBron won’t waive his no trade clause is because nobody can read the future. In a 2-week span, DeMarcus Cousins and Kristaps Porzingis were lost for the season. Who knows what will happen in the playoffs? In the playoffs the last three years, the following stars were injured:
Kawhi Leonard (2017)
Kyle Lowry (2017)
Isaiah Thomas (2017)
Blake Griffin (2017)
Stephen Curry (2016)
Chris Paul (2016)
Blake Griffin (2016)
Kevin Love (2015)
Kyrie Irving (2015)
Beyond the playoffs, there could be a small window in which LeBron could stay in Cleveland. On May 15th, the NBA draft lottery will be held. The Cavs own the Nets pick from the Kyrie Irving trade. The bad news: It is currently 8th. The good news: The distance between the worst team in the NBA (Dallas) and 8th is a mere 1.5 games.
If you think back to when the Cavs landed LeBron in 2014, they traded the #1 pick (Andrew Wiggins) and a former #1 pick (Anthony Bennett) to Minnesota, and Alexey Sheved went to Philadelphia along with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. In return, Cleveland got Kevin Love.
So come June, the Cavs land a Top 3 player, and let’s say they package that pick with Jae Crowder and Tristan Thompson to San Antonio for a disgruntled Kawhi Leonard. The best player on the Spurs has played nine games this season, and something is going on between Leonard and the Spurs front office. The former Finals MVP turns 27 in June and is set for a big payday.
What if Leonard demands a trade, the way Kyrie Irving did? The Spurs could do what they did with LaMarcus Aldridge – talk him out of it – or Leonard could counter with the Kyrie move of threatening to have surgery and sitting out.
Yes, these are the lengths Cavs fans have to go to in hopes of keeping LeBron. Nail the draft lottery, and then hope another star around the NBA wants out, giving Cleveland the chance to swoop in and get another Big 3.