The pros may outweigh the cons of the latest Cavs’ Carmelo Anthony trade rumors are true and Melo gets dealt to Cleveland before the Feb. 18 trade deadline.
Frank Isola from the New York Daily News reported the Knicks, Celtics, and Cavs discussed a trade centered around Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony. For the Cavs, the trade would see at least Timofy Mozgov and Kevin Love leave town and head to New York and Boston, respectively. But what would be the on court impact of such a deal? At this point, it’s all just a very fringy hypothetical, but it’s still fun to play around with the idea.
For the Cavs, moving Mozgov on to the Big Apple slides either Tristan Thompson permanently into the starting lineup if he is still on the roster after everything is all said and done. If he’s included in a deal, it’ll be Anderson Varejaeo who sees a bump up to the first five. This would also mean that Sasha Kaun might have to stop wearing a suit on game days and contribute roughly 15 minutes per night as a reserve big man.
As for replacing Kevin Love’s role on the team, it will be done in a very different way. His shooting and playmaking ability in the post won’t be replaced by a new face or even Carmelo Anthony. Instead, it would be replaced by LeBron James assuming the role of a full-time power forward. Kevin Love presented match up problems on offense because of his skill level. Imagine those match up issues with a player like James manning the four spot, which he is more than capable of doing on both ends of the floor. In fact, I think this would represent an upgrade on the defensive end of the floor.
LeBron James might be the prototype of the modern NBA four, which has become simply an oversized three. With Tyronn Lue‘s up-tempo style on offense, speed and versatility is more important than in David Blatt’s half court centric offense.
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LeBron can continue to act as a secondary ball handler on the break and can assume Love’s role as a facilitator on the elbows and out to the 3-point line. While Love is the better shooter from distance, James is the far better overall player on the offensive end.
It would be Carmelo Anthony, though, that provides the replacement for Love’s shooting from deep. Anthony was not known as a 3-point shooter in Denver, he’s averaged a 36.8 percent clip from deep while making an average of 1.75 of those shots while in New York. If we throw out Love’s injury shortened 2012-2013 season, he has himself averaged 33.3 percent shooting and 1.45 makes on 3-point shots in his career over the included seven seasons. Not only does Anthony represent an upgrade on the statistical side of shooting, Anthony allows LeBron’s aforementioned move up to the four spot, giving the Cavs offense a far more dynamic set of weapons to unleash on opposing defenses.
Defensively, LeBron James is a better defender than Carmelo Anthony at the three spot. That is not to say that Anthony is a minus defender, but more like a net neutral one. In the right system, however, Anthony has shown that he can step up his defense to the point where it isn’t simply balanced out by his offense, but enhanced by it. It’s important to note that even Kevin Love’s defense appeared to be better while in Cleveland when he wasn’t burdened by being the only offensive threat on the floor. Why not think that Carmelo Anthony’s defensive performance won’t improve in much the same way?
Most importantly, a Love-Anthony swap would allow the Cavs to deploy a true small-ball lineup, not just a lineup consisting of smaller players. Richard Jefferson or James Jones at the four is not a small ball lineup.
a Love-Anthony swap would allow the Cavs to deploy a true small-ball lineup, not just a lineup consisting of smaller players. Richard Jefferson or James Jones at the four is not a small ball lineup. That’s being done simply out of necessity.
That’s being done simply out of necessity. With a line up (from one to five) of Irving, Smith, Anthony, James, and Thompson, the Cavs can run bigger teams off the floor and keep up skill wise with smaller teams.
What it all boils down to is that the smaller lineup with James at the four and Anthony at the three can compete with the lineups that Golden State has had so much success with.
Isola’s report again is just rumors and speculation at this point, but if the Cavs pull the trigger on a deal like this, fans will see the type of lineup that Tyronn Lue’s offensive is built for.
A Love for Anthony swap doesn’t just make the Cavs better for their run through the Eastern Conference, but would probably be enough to get past the Warriors in the Finals. It’s unlikely to happen, but it’s a great idea to toss around during the All-Star break.