Three trades the Cleveland Cavaliers can make to keep LeBron James

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    LeBron James. Skip Bayless hates him. (Source: Wiki Commons)

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers are stuck between and rock and a hard place.

    After being swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, they face an uphill battle to re-sign the greatest player in franchise history LeBron James.

    The four-time MVP has been linked with offseason moves to several teams including the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers.

    It’s unlikely that James stays with the Cavaliers, but not entirely impossible. Cleveland holds the eighth pick in the stacked 2018 NBA draft, and if the team’s front office is proactive in making a trade for another all-star calibre player, LeBron might just consider staying.

    Here are three potential trades the Cavaliers can make to keep LeBron James in Cleveland.

    Cavaliers get their Kyrie replacement
    Cleveland Cavaliers receive: PG Kemba Walker, SG Nicolas Batum
    Charlotte Hornets receive: SG J.R Smith, PG Jordan Clarkson, SF Cedi Osman, 2018 first-round pick (via Brooklyn)

    The Michael Jordan-owned Charlotte Hornets have been stuck in a period of mediocrity for years. Charlotte’s payroll is stacked with terrible contracts and with the team failing to make the playoffs for the sixth time in eight years. The offseason appointments of Mitch Kupcak as General Manager and James Borrego as Head Coach could see the Hornets fully embrace a tanking period.

    The Hornets have been exploring trade options for All-Star guard Kemba Walker since the past season’s trade deadline. With a $12 million contract, the franchises all-time leading scorer rests as Charlotte’s sole tradeable asset. Pairing Nicolas Batum’s contract with Walker would clear around $99 million in cap space over the next four seasons.

    They would also receive a developing replacement for Walker in Jordan Clarkson, a prospect in Cedi Osman, a potential star in the eighth pick in a stacked 2018 NBA draft, and the infamous J.R Smith.

    In Walker the Cleveland Cavillers would get an ideal replacement for Kyrie Irving. Since being drafted together in 2011, the pair has regularly been likened for their scoring ability as point guards. Last season, he averaged 22.1 points per game and 2.9 threes per game and could thrive as a second option behind LeBron James.

    Nicolas Batum offers an upgrade on J.R Smith. The Frenchman has a respectable three-point percentage and is regarded as a highly skilled defensive player. Batum could serve as a versatile starter for Cleveland and, alongside Walker, could perhaps force LeBron to consider staying in Cleveland.

    The formal end of the Lob City Clippers
    Cleveland Cavaliers receive: C DeAndre Jordan
    LA Clippers receive: PG Jordan Clarkson, SF Kyle Korver, 2018 first-round pick (via Brooklyn)

    After trading away superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years. The team is reportedly targeting Slovenian Luka Doncic in this year’s NBA draft, and currently hold the 12th and 13th picks.

    Center DeAndre Jordan remains the last member of the ‘Lob City’ era in Los Angeles. Should he opt-in to his player option for the 2018-19 season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Clippers pursue a trade for the 29-year-old.

    Trading Jordan would free up $25 million in cap space to re-sign guard Avery Bradley and provide Los Angeles with some additional assets.

    Point guard Jordan Clarkson would allow Patrick Beverly to assume his natural place in rotation as a sixth man. A veteran marksman is offered in Kyle Korver, and the eighth pick could be paired with the Clippers other two lottery picks to trade up in the draft.

    Alternatively three lottery selections in a stacked NBA draft would provide Los Angeles the perfect pillars for a rebuild.

    In Jordan, the Cavaliers would receive an All-Star center to pair with Kevin Love and a player who would help fix the team’s rebounding woes. He averaged 12 points per game and 15.2 rebounds per game last season.

    The deal would see the Cavs complete a trade that LeBron James was pushing for prior to the trade deadline, perhaps securing the superstar for another season.

    Memphis embraces the tank
    Cleveland Cavaliers receive: C Marc Gasol
    Memphis Grizzlies receive: C Tristan Thompson, SF Cedi Osman, 2018 first-round pick (via Brooklyn)

    It’s hard to tell what direction the Memphis Grizzlies are heading going into this offseason. They had a nightmare season, starting off with playoff aspirations before an 11-game losing streak pushed them to shift into tank mode, missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

    But it’s still unclear whether or not they have fully embraced the tank. They had the opportunity to trade stars Tyreke Evans and Mike Conley, but didn’t.

    Memphis would not even entertain trade offers for Marc Gasol at the trade deadline, but with the Spaniard reaching the end of his career, and the team seemingly not going anywhere fast, it could be time for the Grizzlies to cash in on him.

    Marc Gasol

    (Erik Drost / Flickr)

    Unloading Gasol’s $24-million contract would free up cap space to re-sign Tyreke Evans, and the addition of the eighth draft, to pair with the fourth pick, only increases their chances of landing a future franchise superstar.

    The Cavaliers would receive veteran All-Star center who still has plenty to offer on both ends of the floor. Gasol would be a short-term option for the Cavaliers. He is a player that can help anchor the defence and on the offensive end help set up teammates and stretch the floor.

    Gasol, who averaged 17.2 points per game and shot just under 35 per cent from three point range, would be a dynamic addition to Cleveland and may just be enough to persuade LeBron to re-sign.

    Regardless of whether James re-signs with the Cavaliers or not, the team will look significantly different than they did in 2018. This offseason, Cleveland’s head office should act proactively in exploring trade options for another star.

    But even if a team does take the bait and send a high level player to Cleveland, it still might not be enough to keep LeBron James around.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • June 12th 2018 @ 7:06am
      Swampy said | June 12th 2018 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      Is it even possible for the Cavs to financially make these trades under the cap?

      As far as I’m aware, their best option is to sign and trade LeBron if they can get him to agree to that and rebuild for the future if LeBron indicates he does not want to stay.

      • June 12th 2018 @ 9:40am
        astro said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

        Yeah, a few of these seem like trades where Cleveland are taking on even more salary, if that’s possible.

        I’m also not sure Cleveland will have any luck asking any team to take on Thompson, Clarkson or JR Smith, even with the no.8 pick. Eg. would the hornets really want to commit to paying Clarkson and JR $30mil in 2020?

      • June 12th 2018 @ 12:11pm
        nevyn said | June 12th 2018 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

        The first trade will definitely not work:

        JR, Clarkson and Cedi combined are owed a combined 30.3 million

        Batum and Kemba are owed 36 million

        Not sure even that it would be worth it for Charlotte, clearing Batum’s 3 remaining years off their contract would be a win, but taking on JR remaining 2 years would be questionable.

        Kemba is a 2 time all-star and that’s not much of a return for the two of them combined, even with the draft pick

        • June 12th 2018 @ 1:06pm
          mushi said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

          Yep I would think the Hornets chalk that one up as a crank call.

    • June 12th 2018 @ 9:02am
      Jerry said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      I dunno if any of those would be sufficient to keep him – I mean, would any of them make the Cavs remotely competitive with the Warriors? Nope.

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2018 @ 9:40am
      Joel Erickson said | June 12th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      Would be better for the Cavs to accept the fact they’re losing LeBron, and go hard at the draft. The Celtics have shown it’s possible to rebuild in a hurry, no reason the Cavs can’t do it.

      • June 12th 2018 @ 1:09pm
        mushi said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

        That rebuild was only possible because one franchise didn’t understand option value, the salary cap or the basic premise of aging – but mainly option value.

        • Roar Guru

          June 13th 2018 @ 10:10am
          Joel Erickson said | June 13th 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

          If the Cavs did a sign and trade, they’d easily get overs for LeBron. Yes the Nets screwed up with that trade, but they’re not the first team to do it, and they certainly won’t be the last.

          • June 13th 2018 @ 3:11pm
            mushi said | June 13th 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

            Get overs? Getting overs means clearly getting more value back. Do you honestly think that it will be easy for the cavs to get a clearly superior to LeBron package in a close to zero leverage sign and trade?

            As to the screw up – I don’t think you see that kind of screw up again. Teams now vaguely understand the option value… 20 years on from the Nobel prize for it

            • Roar Guru

              June 13th 2018 @ 3:25pm
              Joel Erickson said | June 13th 2018 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

              To be honest, no I don’t think LeBron will agree to a sign-and-trade, because he doesn’t really care about the teams he leaves behind.

              I’d read “getting overs” as the other team paying way too much, regardless of value. LeBron is amazing, but he’s also a 33-year-old man who could feasibly slow down any moment now.

              A team could easily fall into the same trap as the Nets did with the Celtics. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were seen as tools that could get that squad over the line, so they went all in for them. We obviously know it didn’t work out for them, but at the time, the Nets looked like a formidable team.

              Say LeBron agrees to a sign-and-trade, and a team like the Jazz or Pelicans decides to go in for him. Straight up the conversation would start with Donovan Mitchell or Anthony Davis, and I think that would already be paying overs for a guy who will be 34 at the start of next season. Obviously LeBron is better than them both (probably put together) right now, but he won’t be in five-or-ten years time.

              • June 17th 2018 @ 10:01am
                Mushi said | June 17th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

                Your overs doesn’t make sense, if something is of more value than what you paid that is the literal definition of unders.

                Again I can’t see anyone emulating the nets debacle, teams are aware of the option value now. (plus I think both were already into the late half of their 30s). I was actually against the trade due to the options given were essentially the same issue as the steipen rule.

                Also the davis/Mitchell makes no sense lebron doesn’t do the S&T to any team losing their best player so it’s a terrible starting point for negotiations.

    • June 12th 2018 @ 1:20pm
      SAVAGE said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

      Cleveland can do whatever it wants…..LBJ is a free agent, and he has left the building.

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2018 @ 1:58pm
      Chris Kettlewell said | June 12th 2018 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

      He did what he aimed to do a couple of years back and brought a championship to Cleveland. If he was able to bring more championships there, I’m sure he’d love to, but I reckon that at this stage of his career his main aim will be to make sure he’s in a team where he can get enough help from the players around him to be able to take down the Warriors and win more championships. He doesn’t want to finish his career with just 3 rings.

      Is there any way that Cleveland can really put the players in place for next season that means Lebron can really have a genuine shot at taking down the Warriors? The team wouldn’t need to be as stacked as the Warriors is, because it would have Lebron, but it would need to be a lot more stacked than it has been to this point.

      He wants to win, if Cleveland can’t give him the support to truly take on the Warriors, and they probably can’t, then he’s going to leave. He was comfortably the best player on court in the finals, but pretty much the entire Warriors lineup was better than the next best Cavalier, and that’s where the issue is. He needs to have at least a couple of other players in the team who are on that sort of level.

    • June 12th 2018 @ 2:27pm
      Julz said | June 12th 2018 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

      Those trades are not strong enough to keep LeBron in Cleveland. The last thing LeBron wants is another Finals loss to the Warriors. If he stays its gotta be bigger name trades.

      But all of that goes out the window as I just saw online that LeBrons son has been enrolled in an L.A school. Dont know if its true or not but there you go.. LeBron to L.A..

      of all teams..

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