One day after securing the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft for the second time in three years, the Cleveland Cavaliers immediately opened up the possibility of a trade.
Cleveland general manager Chris Grant told ESPN the team will aggressively pursue all avenues in their rebuilding effort, and that would include moving the top pick for more assets.
Lanky Kentucky 19-year-old center Nerlens Noel is the consensus best prospect amongst experts but this is a down draft year, and Cleveland could get more out of their good fortune by trading down to address needs in the defensive front court and its lack of outside shooting.
Noel’s uncanny ability to block shots and his overall athleticism certainly make him an intriguing prospect, but many scouts have soured on his thin frame and whether he can return from the torn ACL that forced him to miss the second of half of the Wildcats season.
Prodigal head coach Mike Brown has always been more of a defensive guru, and having a center who can alter shots at will could intrigue him enough for Cleveland to hang on to the pick for Noel.
And despite his drawbacks, many lottery teams could move up and take the chance on a player who still has many years to develop.
Orlando, Washington, Charlotte and Phoenix fill out the top 5 in the draft order, and all could use another big man to stalk the paint. But which can offer the Cavaliers the best package?
Checkout some each club’s trade assets below. The draft takes place Thursday, June 27 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
The Magic received a huge bounty for Dwight Howard last summer, but they knew all those parts were not going to keep them in the East playoff hunt this season.
Thus Orlando needs help up and down its roster, but several young pieces and the No. 2 overall might be enough to sway the Cavaliers.
Young swingmen Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris could provide Cleveland with some extra length on defense and overall scoring, and the Cavs could then select Georgetown small forward Otto Porter or even take Kansas guard Ben McLemore, who has said he would welcome a stay with the Magic.
The Wizards would be the team least likely to move up and take Noel, but current starting center Emeka Okafor is entering the final year of his contract and the Kentucky star offers a much cheaper option in the middle.
However Washington needs lots of scoring, ranking 28th in the league last year. The Wizards also have very few pieces to trade other than Okafor’s expiring $13.4 million deal.
Cleveland and Washington actual share similar problems, with a strong backcourt, but not much to speak of up front.
They’ve been tied to Porter, and he would fit in nicely with backcourt mates John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Six-foot-9 Bismack Biyombo has been Charlotte’s man in the middle for the past two seasons, and while the hyper athletic Zaire native has led the team in rebounding, his lack of size and post defense skills have left the Bobcats desperate for a more traditional center. Seven-foot Byron Mullens has proven himself a scorer, but his defense leaves plenty to be desired.
Like Orlando, Charlotte has lots of needs to focus on, especially with the 26th ranked offense and 29th ranked defense in the league this season.
They would have to get a third team involved in order to work out a trade, since the Bobcats have very few assets outside of guards Kemba Walker and last year’s No. 2 overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Expiring contracts appear to be Phoenix’s best assets for a trade. Center Marcin Gortat and his $7.7 million deal comes off the books at the end of next season, as does guard Shannon Brown and his $3.5 million deal.
The Suns also hold team options on brothers Markieff and Marcus Morris, and young floor general Kendall Marshall.
A combination of young talent and veterans who could push the Cavs to their first playoff appearance since 2010 could be enough to sway Grant to make a deal.
Though the Suns might be reticent, since they have been eyeing Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, who may be available when they pick at No. 5.