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And with the No. 1 pick in the draft, the Cavaliers… trade it?

May 22, 2013, 8:44 AM EDT

Dan Gilbert, Nick Gilbert AP

The top pick in the NBA draft hasn’t been traded in two decades — elite talent wins in this league and you get that by being bad, winning the lottery and drafting it.

But there is no elite talent in this year’s draft class. So….

It’s been said by people around the league for a while that if a No. 1 pick were going to trade hands this would be the year. And the Cavaliers are going to explore it at least, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

“You want to look at all your options and make the best decision for your team,” Cavs general manager Chris Grant said. “This is a valuable asset that we can add to the group, whether it’s in trade or keep it and add a player.”

The Cavs are in a favorable position to make a deal. The team has more than $20 million in salary cap space, the No. 1 pick plus the No. 19, No. 31 and No. 33 picks, and a roster with young prospects that could be used in a deal.

The Cavaliers want to be a playoff team next year — even owner Dan Gilbert’s lucky charm son Nick Gilbert said so up on stage at the draft lottery. The likely No. 1 pick for them this draft would be Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel — a player who will not be back until Christmas with a torn ACL and is a couple of years away from really meaningful contributions anyway. He doesn’t really help you make the playoffs next year.

But for another team Noel can be a good fit — especially one already thinking about losing a lot of games next season and being high in next year’s lottery and draft where there will be franchise changers like Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle. Noel would fit nicely with them in a few years. But you’d have to give up a quality asset (likely a big man or a slashing forward) who could help the Cavaliers with their short-term goals.

It probably still will not happen. It’s not likely a GM is going to surrender much to get the top pick in this draft, so the trend will continue and the Cavaliers will take Noel and think long term (then use that cap space to get the players they want for next season).

But it’s something to watch. For the first time since it happened to Chris Webber was drafted by the Magic and traded that night to Golden State, the top pick in the draft could be on the move.

  1. iowahbr - May 22, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    Cavs are just poorly run and all the No. 1 draft picks in the world won’t change that.

    • bparmalee - May 22, 2013 at 8:54 AM

      They use to be horrible but getting Speights and Ellington for nothing was shrewd. Irving and Thompson look great……. Waiters had his moments. They are in a good spot with the cap…. all of their recent moves have been really good with the exception of rehiring Mike Brown (I don’t get that unless they think Lebron wants him).

    • slowclyde86 - May 22, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      Lazy comment.

      • shwoogy1 - May 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

        Lazy but true.

  2. bparmalee - May 22, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    I know where the Cavs could get a slightly (ok more than slightly) used Danny Granger for a 2nd round pick. Come on Cavs…. he will stay healthy… I swear.

  3. cinciatl - May 22, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    Why trade it? You could argue this is a great year to hold the No 1 pick. Noel can’t even play until December, which means he will have almost no impact for your team this year. You have a legitimate excuse for having the No 1 pick, zero improvement and picking at the top of the lottery again next year. What more could Cavs fans ask for than a team with Irving, Noel, and a top lottery pick next year?

  4. saint1997 - May 22, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    They don’t want to make the playoffs next year. Trade for a high 2014 pick and some nice young talent that is under utilised and then go for broke in the AMAZING 2014 draft

    • kinggw - May 22, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      This isnt NBA 2k, there isnt a team that is going to do that. Noel doesnt project to be a special type of player and the Cavs didnt help their cause by putting the pick on the block as soon as they acquired it. They should’ve acted as if they were excited to get Noel. They’ve played their hand and lost some leverage.

      In a year that had a much deeper draft class the Wiz traded the number 5 pick, which later became Rubio, for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. The Cavs would be lucky to get a haul like that. Like the 06 draft, this was not the year to win the lottery.

    • ProBasketballPundit - May 22, 2013 at 10:32 PM

      No team is dumb enough to give Cleveland a 2014 pick for a 2013 pick. This draft is being called one of the worst in history and 2014 will likely have Andrew Wiggins and other possible franchise players.

      • saint1997 - May 23, 2013 at 3:04 AM

        i think a team with the no.8-12 range pick next year would happily give up their pick for number one this year. happily

  5. navondusandau - May 22, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    it’s pretty depressing how teams are falling over themselves to lose as much as humanly possible. Beside the obvious sportsmanship issues there it also instills franchises with a losing culture, and this is pretty obvious in places like Cleveland, Sacramento and Charlotte. This is also the reason why elite players drafted high tend to jump ship after a few years to a franchise that’s run properly.

  6. jjthesportsguy - May 22, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    This is exactly why I hope that the Bucks are unable to resign Ellis and that Jennings gets signed to a ridiculous offer by somebody. So the Bucks are terrible. I doubt Stern would let Wiggins go to the Milwaukee market though.

    • bougin89 - May 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      I agree. Reddick doesn’t want to resign(and I’m totally fine with that), Ellis probably leaves, and I also hope somebody goes all out for Jennings and Milwaukee lets him leave. Resigning those guys will only net us more #15 picks that won’t get us to where we need to be.

      Let Sanders and Henson develop while we go all out rebuild mode. Thats the only chance of true success for the Bucks. It might suck for a year or two but in two or three years I’d rather watch young, exciting, developing players than the guys we have now.

    • fm31970 - May 22, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      Stern is retiring next year, isn’t he? IIRC Adam Silver is taking over for him.

      I am with you hoping both Ellis and Jennings are gone, though. I think Ellis still needs to opt out, though. Quite honestly, I could see the Bucks doing a sign-and-trade with Jennings, as they don’t want to lose him for nothing, but he’s not worth what he wants.

  7. mungman69 - May 22, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    The Cavs are really a couple of years away so take Noel and shoot for next years lottery. They have the picks and cap space to build a really good team.

  8. zacksdad - May 22, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Paul Gasol for number one pick.

    • loungefly74 - May 22, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      very interesting…for both teams involved.

    • asimonetti88 - May 22, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      As a Lakers fan I’d love it. I will probably make this trade in NBA 2K since that’s the only place it’s realistic.

    • erckle31 - May 22, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      I wouldn’t want Noel if that’s what you’re thinking. He has to put on some serious weight to be competitive.

  9. wjmoffatt - May 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    How about Jabarri Parker? IDC if Wiggins was ranked first, Parker is better and has always been better

  10. heat256 - May 22, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    If I’m CLE, do I dare call them and say they can have Irving and the No 1 pick for Westbrook? OKC may bite so they can try and rid themselves of Perkin’s contract or sit back and wait to see if someone offers them something ridiculous for either Ibaka or the rights to Noel (should he go No 1 overall). After all, owner Clay Bennett is not above saving some money when he can.

    • casualcommenter - May 22, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      Dumb trade.

      While Westbrook is a better defender than Irving, Irving is a MUCH better shooter (he’s FAR more efficient than Westbrook despite not having a Durant-like teammate to draw the attention of opposing defense) AND Irving is still under his rookie deal.

      No way would the Cavaliers trade away Irving AND the Number 1 pick for a Russell Westbrook who is earning a max contract and coming off knee surgery.

      • heat256 - May 22, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        I agree, but Westbrook is definitely a better player and with CLE having little to no luck attracting marquee players there, they’d have to at least consider it.

    • moseskkim - May 22, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      Westbrook Is way more durable and arguably better than irving. He missed 0 games his whole life til an unfortunate incident with Beverley. Irving gets hurt a lot and different areas of his body. I’d rather have Westbrook but yeah irving and 1st hurts too much lol.

      • heat256 - May 22, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        I do agree. But I would wonder if OKC wouldn’t be intrigued by that deal even just a little as they could make out like bandits on it really. It’s all fun speculation, but with such a weak draft, I don’t know how many people in CLE are jumping up and down. With that said, I’d argue the NBA is a harder league to get into from a talent standpoint. You see 6th and 7th rounders flourish in the NFl all the time. Only in the NBA is the 12th pick almost like a funeral for one’s team.

    • bougin89 - May 22, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      That would be a horrible trade for the Cavaliers even though I think Westbrook may very well be better than Irving(at least overall). But why would they trade Irving especially while he is still on his rookie contract and the #1 pick in the draft? The Cavs are still rebuilding, this trade would wreck a great cap situation and they wouldn’t have the #1 pick in the draft(and the 4 years of the rookie contract that comes with that player).

  11. deshackle - May 22, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    What kind of game are you playing when your top prospect is a high school kid coming off knee surgery? I liken it to Alabama offering a scholarship to an 8th grader. I’m sure Nerlens Noel will be a fine basketball player someday, but shouldn’t there be a body of work that demonstrates he’s ready to be a professional athlete? The NBA has lost its dignity.

    • casualcommenter - May 22, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      You need to get better informed.

      Noel isn’t a high school kid. He finished a year of college.
      Also, many football players only play 2 years of college, so it’s not a big difference. You can still be drafted out of high school to play baseball or hockey.

      Also, internationally, a lot of soccer players are recruited straight out of high school.

      So the list of sports in which you can be drafted after 2 years (or less) of college include basketball, football, baseball, hockey and soccer. Basically, ALL OF THE MAJOR SPORTS.

      Again, you need to get better informed.

      • hbdbrowns33 - May 22, 2013 at 5:44 PM

        In football you have to be 3 years out of high school to get drafted. Players who are drafted as sophomores are actually redshirt sophomores. That means they sat out their first year like the majority of incoming freshman in college football. Don’t call people out for being uninformed if you yourself don’t know the facts.

  12. stephenolszewski - May 22, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Cavs should’ve drafted Barnes or MKG last year so they could have drafted Ben Mclemore this year. Not that they would’ve known they’d have a chance at him. As badly as the Cavs need interior defense Nerlens Noel just scares me and Cavs already have two raw offensive players in Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cavs trade for LaMarcus Aldridge or DeMarcus Cousins which I would love that move.

  13. iowahbr - May 22, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    someone needs to explain to the Cavs front office:the the goal to at least make the play-offs, not win the lottery each year.

    • casualcommenter - May 22, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      Dunno – making the lottery 3+ times in a row worked out well for the OKC Thunder.

    • bougin89 - May 22, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      Why wouldn’t they want to win the lottery each year while they are rebuilding?

  14. themagicfanguy - May 22, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    @wjmoffatt If by better you mean that Parker is the exact same player except not as athletic, not as talented, not as smart, and has an extra 50lbs of fat on him… Then yeah, I guess Parker is better.

  15. sportsnut101 - May 22, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    Thunder wouldn’t make that deal Westbrook plays def

    Hornets will take number pick. For the 4 th pick Gerald Henderson n a 2 nd rd pick

  16. supremekingz - May 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Cleveland is still the factory of sadness. I don’t know how anybody out of their city limits can root for that team. Absolute garbage. Can’t wait until somebody rescues Uncle Drew

    • slowclyde86 - May 22, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Cheery goodwill and deep insight within the same post. The Cavs are actually going about this the right way post Lebron. They are following the only model small-market teams can follow. But sure, go ahead and take such well-reasoned pot-shots if it helps you feel better.

      • bougin89 - May 22, 2013 at 4:57 PM

        Great response to a total Fail comment by supremekingz. Couldn’t have said it better.

  17. lavoysboy - May 22, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Lebron to the Cavs in 14-15 could still very much happen.

    The Cavs should not pick up the option on Varejao in 14-15 season. That would give them about 22.5 million in players’ salaries for that season. They could potentially sign LEbron for about 20 million (which he would make in Miami). Then they would have about 42.5 million in total salaries, and then throw in Nerlens Noel (who they should take with the #1 pick to fill they need at center) for about a 6-8 million per year contract. That would give the Cavs about 50.5 million in total players’ salaries (which would include a lineup of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Lebron James, Tristan Thompson, and Nerlens Noel… Alonzo Gee and Tyler Zeller coming off the bench). And this is assuming the Cavs would pick up all of the player options they have for that season except for Varejao. They would have about 20 million in cap space to sign 5 bench players which could consist of 2 or 3 good veterans to have some experience and wisdom on the team.

    Lebron can go back to his original team with a bunch of young and talented players rather than going back to the heat. Even though Wade is still a superstar he is getting older and getting more banged up, and even Bosh will be that much older. If Lebron wants to win many championships for years to come he can go back to Cleveland. If he stays with Miami they will have at BEST another 3-4 championship runs. If he goes to Cleveland the sky is the limit. That team could be together for 5-7 years, but they will have to replace pieces here and here because some of the players will end up leaving for more money.

    If the Cavs do this they could end up being a dynasty. Dan Gilbert will screw it up somehow though.

    This coming from a Sixers fan, not a Cavs fan.

  18. mcjon22 - May 22, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    How about Loul Deng and Chicago’s 1st rounder for the first pick? Chicago has Jimmy Butler waiting in the wings, Boozer isn’t long for Chicago after this season, and Cleveland gets a 3 time All-Star to teach the young in’s how to win.

  19. tomtravis76 - May 22, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    The building process is all good, but will they be able to retain Kyrie? Doubt it. He is going to have to join a team with other superstars to have a realistic shot at the Finals. Unless the Cavs suddenly become like OKC, he is going to bolt when possible.

  20. pl4tinum514 - May 23, 2013 at 12:09 AM


    enough said

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