Option 3: Trade away the Nets’ pick
Bang. The Cavs get the two things they need the most: improved interior defense and rebounding, as well as playmaking and shooting off the bench.
The acquisition of DeAndre Jordan allows Love to move back to his traditional power forward position. Compared to Thompson, Jordan is a huge upgrade, who is currently averaging 11.9 points, 15.1 rebounds per game.
He is also shooting a career-best 60 percent from the free-throw line. Though averaging nearly a block shy of his career-average (1.0 compared to 1.8), Jordan brings rim protection that Thompson does not possess.
The Lou Williams addition is huge for the Cavaliers bench. Outside of Wade, the Cavs do not have anyone who can routinely create their own shot. Not only is Williams averaging 22.9 points per game, but his 4.9 assists are a career-high. He is shooting over 41 percent from three-point range and can create those looks on his own (unlike long-distance ace Kyle Korver).
The contracts of Shumpert and Frye go to Los Angeles to make the deal work. Frye’s deal is expiring, and a trade could lead to a buy-out and retirement down the road. Shump’s deal has just two years left on it at a reasonable $10.3M AAV.
His veteran presence and defensive prowess would be desirable for a young, beat-up Clippers team. Thompson would step in for Jordan as the team’s starting center, while the Brooklyn pick would give Los Angeles a great asset to pair with Blake Griffin.
However, this deal does not come without its concerns.
First off, including the Nets pick could be a deal breaker. Appearing on Outside the Lines, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said “(The Cavs) will only use (the Nets pick) in Cleveland, I’m told, is if it’s a player they believe can put them over the top.”
Woj brings up Jordan, who he says “does not rise to that level” to include the Brooklyn pick in a trade. However, this trade also brings back Williams, whose talent the Cavs could desperately use off the bench.
He is on an expiring deal, which means the Clippers could stomach him leaving (although The Vertical’s Shams Charania says LA and Williams have begun contract extension negotiations).
Surely, the Cavs would move their own first-round pick in a heartbeat. It is likely that Los Angeles pushes for the Brooklyn pick, though. Providing top-five protection on the pick could be seen as a compromise on both sides (only five teams have less wins than the Nets currently), especially with the lottery rules changing in 2019.
Also, Jordan can opt-out of his contract after this season. However, Woj notes that the sense is the big man would be willing to re-sign with the team that trades for him. This is welcoming news for the Cavs, considering Jordan could stick around even if LeBron James leaves via free agency.
Both teams get what they are looking for: the Cavs, shooting, playmaking and defense; the Clippers, future financial help, affordability and longevity at the center position. The Cavs bench gets deeper, with Crowder shifting to the second unit, and a trade exception can be used to bring in another big with the added roster space.
It comes down to whether or not the deal gives the Cavs a legit chance to dethrone the Golden State Warriors and win another championship. That, or the chance at a lottery pick that may not end us as high as many expected.
For what it’s worth, Jordan double-doubled in a win over the Warriors on Wednesday, with 10 points, 12 rebounds and a block. Even more enticing, Williams dropped 50 points, including eight threes and seven assists. That certainly should get general manager Koby Altman thinking.