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Drafting Season: The Cavaliers’ Currency



The Cavaliers’ wallet is overflowing with draft picks which, with the freshly formed terror that is the new NBA luxury tax, are one of the more coveted forms of NBA currency.  As this team prepares to begin its ascent up the NBA ranks it just might be time to cash some of them in for NBA players instead of rookies.  Particularly because it is more likely for the Cavs to acquire top talent via trades versus free agency.  Outside of #1 overall picks rookies rarely post above a league average PER when given 25+ minutes.  As our roster fills out future Cavaliers’ rookies will find minutes hard to come by thus give the team diminishing returns from adding young players due to a lack of minutes to develop.  Think Danny Green in Cleveland or possibly Jeremy Lamb in Oklahoma City.  NBA rookies’ value lie in the fact that they have the most upside of any NBA asset, cost relatively little, and can be controlled by a team for a long time.  Essentially they are the equivalent of hiring your freshly pimpled 16 year old neighbor to cut your lawn1, relatively inexpensive, but not completely reliable.

So if you want an impact, rookies aren’t the place to look.  I’m not necessarily on the “this team needs to make the playoffs this year bandwagon”, but I do want to see them improve and I think they need a few more veterans and some consistency in terms of player roles in order to do so.  So despite this series of articles being labeled “Drafting Season” I’m going to be looking at NBA players who could possibly be acquired in the lead up to the draft, on draft day, or over the summer.  That isn’t to say I know Chris Grant is looking at any of the players I will mention, Grant has been notoriously secretive over acquisitions, but I can at least speculate who is available and why they would or wouldn’t be a good fit for the Cavs.  Before I go window shopping with the Cavaliers’ money, however, let’s first take a look into that aforementioned wallet bulging in Chris Grant’s back pocket and catch a glimpse of what exactly he’s dealing with.


2013 picks 

– 1st overall pick.

– 19th overall pick

– 31st overall pick

– 33rd overall pick

Analysis: I can’t see the Cavaliers adding four rookies to this squad, which leaves two options for this surplus of picks: package them in a trade or take a flyer on some overseas players who won’t be coming to the NBA right away.  The Cavs have tried multiple times to package picks to move up with mixed success.  Last year they were successful in grabbing Tyler Zeller, but the previous year they were unable to move back into the top 10 despite multiple attempts.  Their best chance of moving up is with a team like Dallas who doesn’t necessarily want a lottery pick because they are trying to preserve cap space for a max deal.  It is also possible they could pull a George Hill/Kawhi Leonard type deal with the 19th pick if they can find a team who is trying to unload a soon to be more expensive player for a cheaper rookie deal in order to avoid the monster that is the new NBA luxury tax.  In a future installment of this series I’m going to look at some of the foreign players in this draft and so I won’t go into detail here on stashing players.   As for the #1 overall pick, well it is hard to imagine too many scenarios where they trade it just because it lacks the luster of other drafts, especially because of the risk that comes with drafting a big man with two past knee injuries.  I will try to cover a few outside possibilities though mainly just for fun.


2014 and Beyond 

– The Cavs own the rights to all their own future draft picks.

Analysis:  If the Cavs are looking to make a playoff push soon they could trade the rights to their own future first rounders in hopes that they will be in the playoffs soon and thus only be giving away late first round picks.  I’m not always a fan of this, as I’m still suffering from PTS  stemming back to the Jiri Welsch trade, but with an abundance of picks and young players already I could easily be swayed into converting future picks into current players if the right ones were coming the Cavs’ way.


Future Picks from Trades 

Sacramento First or Second Round Pick (acquired in the JJ Hickson trade):

– Protected 1-12 1st rounder in 2014.

– If the pick isn’t given in 2014 then they get a 1st rounder protected 1-10 in 2015, 2016, or 2017.2

– If the pick has not been received by 2017 then the Cavs get the Kings 2017 2nd round pick unless it falls between 56-60, in which case they get nothing.  Don’t ask me why that last clause is in there.  I have no clue and it will hurt my brains if I think about it too long.  Be sure though if I could ask Chris Grant one question that would sadly be it.

Analysis:  It is hard to judge how valuable this pick is because no one really knows what this new Kings ownership is going to do with their roster.  It seems likely they will rebuild, which means they might not be contending for a playoff spot for awhile.  If that is the case this is likely going to just wind up being a high 2nd round pick in 2017.  Since the Cavaliers only gave up JJ Hickson for it I would have to call that a win.  On the upside if the Kings do trade DeMarcus Cousins for some young talent and luck out and win the rights to Andrew Wiggins in the 2014 draft their turn around could be a little quicker and the Cavaliers could see a pick in the 11-15 range around 2016, not impossible.

Memphis First Round Pick (acquired in the Jon Leuer trade):

– Memphis’ first round pick in 2015 or 2016 protected 1-5 and 15-30.

– The pick is then protected 1-5 in 2017 and 2018.

– If the pick still has not been given it is then an unprotected first rounder in 2019.

Analysis:       This is a guaranteed first round pick for the Cavaliers and a valuable asset that can be used in trades.  The 15-30 protection in 2015/2016 means that the Cavaliers are protected against getting only a late first rounder in those years which it is likely to be as the Gasol/Conley duo will keep Memphis in playoff contention for the next few years.  If Memphis continues to contend after 2016 the Cavaliers at least get a 1st rounder still and if Memphis falls off any year between 2015-2018 the Cavaliers could have an extra pick as high as 6th.  If the Cavaliers are contending themselves around this time getting an influx of cheap young talent is invaluable, see Leonard and Green on the Spurs, or it could be a highly valued trade asset.

Miami First Round Pick (acquired in the LeBron sign and trade):

– Protected 1-10 in 2015 and 2016.

– If the pick still has not been given after 2016 then it becomes an unprotected pick in 2017.

Analysis:  Once again assigning value to this pick necessitates me speculating on the future of a team, but this time it is with everybody’s favorite team to speculate on, the Heat.  Honestly this all depends on LeBron.  If he leaves Miami this pick could be quite high.  Bosh, Wade, and LeBron all have player options in 2014, but unless Dwayne Wade teams up with Ponce de Leon and finds the fountain of youth down in Florida I can’t see him opting out.  He’d be turning down a guaranteed 40 million dollars as an aging injury prone player.  If LeBron were to leave and the Heat were locked into 20 million per year on an oft injured Wade this pick could be from a transitioning/rebuilding Heat and be as high as #1 in 2017.  If LeBron commits long term to the Heat, or even just opts in for 2015,this pick would likely be at the end of the first round in 2015 and a lot less valuable of an asset.  So even if LeBron spurns the chance to return to Cleveland I’d still love for him to at least leave Miami just to help out the value of this pick.


Quick LeBron Detour:       I am not someone who is willing to make moves strictly with a potential LeBron return in mind.   Unless there was some backroom talk between James and the Cavs I’m not banking on him signing here.  If a great trade makes itself available, but also will take us out of the LeBron 2014 running, I personally would still go for it.  I will factor LeBron’s potential free agency into some of my possible trades analysis, but by no means am I counting on the return of the king.


Random Second Rounders: 

– Memphis’ 2nd rounder in 2014 from the Jon Leuer trade.

– Orlando’s 2nd rounder in 2014 from trading the draft rights to Justin Harper in the 2011 draft.

Analysis:  None really.  I mainly just put these here to be complete.  These can be throw ins for certain trades or maybe to move up in a draft, but it is hard to put a proper valuation on NBA 2nd rounders which can be rather hit or miss.


Part Two?

As this introduction proved to be longer than expected this is going to get split into a second part.  Now that I’ve done some accounting for the Cavaliers and identified their assets, which I should quickly throw Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Tristan Thompson, Andersen Varejao, and a decent chunk of cap space into, I’ll be able to move onto the second half tomorrow and play the NBA trade stock market. If you’re a fan of unfettered speculation then be sure to check back in.


-Joe Mastrantoni

 (This is part 3 of Joe Mastrantoni’s ongoing series for the 2013 Cavaliers ‘Drafting Season’)

(Click here for part 2 – “Keep It Simple Stupid“)

(Click here for part 1 – “It’s the most Wonderful Time of the Year!”)

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  1. And sometimes one of his friends breaks into your house and steals your XBox – True story []
  2. it isn’t up to the Cavs in terms of what year.  The first pick that becomes available in accordance with the protection is given []

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Posted by on Jun 6 2013. Filed under Featured, Hands Down, Man's Down. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

4 Comments for “Drafting Season: The Cavaliers’ Currency”

  1. DrOktagon

    The reason for the strange protection in the potential 2017 2nd round pick from Sacramento is that the Kings traded the pick to Boston, should it fall in the 56-60 range. It was a throw in to a trade done mostly for financial reasons by both teams involving Marquis Daniels.

    Teams use these comically heavily protected 2nd round picks as a kind of false currency in trades.

    • Joe Mastrantoni

      Thanks for the answer. Asked a few different people and could not get a firm answer. I figured it had to do with saving money.

      • DrOktagon

        One more note. Putting in the 56-60 protection is required by league rules, but it is actually impossible for it to matter. If the SAC 2nd rounder is in the 56-60 range, then the SAC 1st rounder must be in the 26-30 range, hence the Cavs would be getting the 2017 1st rounder and not the 2nd rounder.

        And yes, I am a dork.

        • Joe Mastrantoni

          Haha it is cool, so am I. That actually occurred to me while I was writing hence making the protection seem all the more unnecessary and mind blowing. I like to think it is just to mess with beat reporters even though I knew deep down that wasn’t the real answer.

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