The Cleveland Cavaliers will be selecting first overall in the 2014 NBA Draft; the third time in four seasons the Cavs have had the top pick in the draft. While there is a finite list of players Cleveland is considering with the first selection, there are other options the team is pursuing in an effort to accelerate their Eastern Conference ascension.
The first option being considered is trading down in the draft; with a handful of teams engaging Cleveland in these discussions. Those teams include Philadelphia, Orlando, Utah, Boston, and Los Angeles (Lakers). Making such a move would allow the team a chance to select the player they had initially planned to draft, Joel Embiid and not use the top pick to do so. Coming off surgery to repair a broken foot, Embiid’s stock status has dropped; but not too far where he won’t still be a top five or ten selection. A trade down would benefit the Cavaliers by giving the team an established talent, along with potentially two first round selections. A more immediate talent infusion with a proven player and more picks would give Cleveland the boost it needs to make a run for the 2015 playoffs.
Another option that would make sense for the Cavaliers to consider is packaging the first overall selection with existing talent (Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson) in order to secure the services of a more established NBA star. The primary player on most team’s radar is Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who has informed his current club that he has no intention of signing a contract extension and will enter free agency in the summer of 2015. Obtaining Love would add another All Star player to the roster and give current All Star MVP Kyrie Irving an established star to play with. A move of this nature though is risky, as Love is also likely not to sign an extension with the Cavaliers either. It would be on the team to build a contending team in the one season with Love in order to convince him that Cleveland is the right place for him as a free agent.
Keeping the pick and selecting Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker is still a viable option and one that the Cavaliers may ultimately pursue. But if Cleveland is truly serious about making a strong bid to bring back former Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, they will have to be bold in the coming weeks in order to convince “King James” that the Cavaliers are an emerging title contender. Adding a player like Love would add more credibility to that claim; while maintaining the pick would require Cleveland to pursue another top flight free agent to play along with James and Irving.
So what will the Cavalier ultimately do? If the talk radio shows in Cleveland are any indication, the team must make a concerted effort to entice LeBron James to come home. To do so, the organization must be bold. While bold and Cavaliers have not been synonymous of late, the team’s hiring of international winning coach David Blatt as their next head coach along with top head coaching candidate Tyronn Lue as their lead assistant exhibits some measure of out-of-the-box thinking that is consistent with what is needed to turn this franchise’s fortunes over in short order.
In no way are any of the aforementioned moves guarantees that Love and/or James are destined for long stays in Ohio. They do however increase the franchise’s chances of becoming a viable Eastern Conference power sooner rather than later. Drafting Wiggins or Parker would also present a similar opportunity to become a contender; it would just take longer. Many NBA fans believe the NBA Finals were the epitome of basketball drama. What is about to transpire over the next few days and weeks will likely challenge that assessment.
Scott Duhaime is a New England Sports fan and former resident, transplanted to Ohio. Despite his new address, his passion for sports hasn’t diminished, but rather broadened to now cover the Cleveland sports scene. Scott’s sports commitment is best evidenced by his creation and continued contributions to Banner Day Boston and Banner Day Boston Radio .