Trades the Cleveland Cavaliers Should Make this Offseason

Cleveland Cavaliers Offseason trades should include moving Kevin Love
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots a free throw while taking on the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Cavaliers are heading into the offseason in salary cap purgatory thanks to a few high dollar contracts they gave to guys to keep a championship team together. When LeBron James bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, it changed the Cavaliers’ strategy. Instead of overpaying slightly for guys to keep a contending team together, the Cavaliers should start trying to move some of those contracts for draft picks and cap space heading into free agency.

Offseason Trades the Cleveland Cavaliers Should Make

Kevin Love to the Oklahoma City Thunder

The first of three offseason trades the Cleveland Cavaliers should make is sending Kevin Love to the Oklahoma City Thunder. There have been some recent murmurs about the Thunder having an interest in bringing Love in.

Cleveland Cavaliers Receive – Andre RobersonJerami GrantTerrance Ferguson21st pick in the 2019 NBA Draft

Oklahoma City Thunder Receive – Kevin Love, 26th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft

Benefit for the Cleveland Cavaliers

What benefit do the Cavaliers have in trading their best player? Well, the Cavaliers are quite a ways from contending and just extended Love last summer with a five-year max contract. They swap the five years on Kevin Love’s deal and only pay Roberson for two years, and Grant for two years, although Grant does have a player option for a third year. Ferguson is only making a little over two million dollars per season, so the Cavaliers’ front office won’t even blink at that. They also get within $730,000 of the tax line. Only winning teams should accept paying the luxury tax.

The main benefit for Cleveland from a basketball standpoint is they get to move up five spots in the draft and they add Ferguson, who is a promising young player. Saying goodbye to Kevin Love, who is loved in Cleveland, will be difficult but necessary.

Benefit for the Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder have disappointed in each of the last two seasons. They are severely lacking in the shooting department, especially in the big shooting department. With Russell WestbrookPaul George, and Steven Adams all under contract for the next two seasons, the Thunder’s contending window is now. They are already over the tax line so adding Love does little to affect their luxury tax. What it does affect, however, is their talent.

Love was once considered an elite player during his last couple of years with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now, he is best served as a second or third option. Love thrived at times as a spot-up big and offensive rebounder when he played alongside Kyrie Irving and LeBron James in Cleveland. With Westbrook and George, Love can again play that role. He also won’t have to bang, night in and night out, with centers, as Steven Adams is a very good rebounder and defender. Adding Love to an already top-heavy roster allows Oklahoma City to add another dimension to their offence that has been lacking, shooting. The Thunder also only move back five spots in the draft and could be in line to select a high potential wing at that position to help fill out the back end of their rotation.

Moving Up in the 2019 NBA Draft

With the previous two trades, the Cavaliers would have accomplished their main goal this offseason. Get off of long term, high-dollar contracts. The third of three offseason trades the Cleveland Cavaliers should make will add a bit of salary back to the cap but will allow them to move up from the 21st pick that they acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Kevin Love deal.

Cleveland Cavaliers Receive – James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, 13th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft

Miami Heat Receive – Tristan Thompson, Jordan Clarkson, 21st pick in the 2019 NBA Draft

Benefit for the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers will be trading two rather large contracts that will expire following the 2019-2020 season. Adding James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk allows the Cavaliers to move up eight spots in the 2019 NBA Draft. They will add a year of higher end salary to do so, but the tradeoff, in the long run, will be worth it for Cleveland.

Benefit for the Miami Heat

The Miami Heat are moving back eight spots in the draft in order to have salary come off the books heading into the summer of 2020. In order to free up enough space to be players in free agency, they will also have to get off of the contracts of Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, and if they so choose, Justise Winslow. Making this trade allows Miami to be on the edge of being a major free agent destination in 2020.

Adding Draft Picks for J.R. Smith’s Contract

Cleveland Cavaliers Receive – Spencer Dinwiddie, 27th pick in the 2019 NBA draft, 2021 first round pick

Brooklyn Nets Receive – J.R. Smith

Benefit for the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers use the excellent asset that is J.R. Smiths contract to secure a solid player in Spencer Dinwiddie who has a decent contract for the next two seasons, plus a player option for a third. They also add two additional first round picks that will allow them to build young talent.

Benefit for the Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets are trying to clear cap space in order to add superstar players. Dinwiddie will make over $10 million dollars next season. Adding J.R. Smith’s contract allows them to waive him and only have $3 million against the cap. They also don’t have to pay a late first round pick the slotted salary that is nearly $2 million. In order for this trade to be completed, the Brooklyn Nets would need to renounce the rights to restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell.

Outlook for the Cleveland Cavaliers

If the Cavaliers pull off the improbable and execute all three of these trades, they will get under the luxury tax threshold for the next two seasons, while adding a couple of solid players, two first round picks, and move up from 26th to 13th in the upcoming draft. The Cavaliers have a chance to be real players in free agency in the coming years if they hit on the draft and make the proper roster moves. These three moves will allow them to start their rebuild properly by adding young talent and assets and getting out from under big, long-term contracts.

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