Cavs Got Baffling Bang For Their Buck


The headline is obvious. James Harden is teaming up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn in a seismic trade altering the balance of power in the NBA. The deal includes four teams: Houston, Brooklyn, Cleveland and Indiana. The details are as follows:

While breakdowns of the trade will center on Harden and Oladipo changing teams, the biggest winner may be the team that will be talked about the least.

The Cleveland Cavaliers made out like bandits participating in a mega-deal that was sparked by a superstar’s trade demand. GM Koby Altman positioned the team perfectly to acquire assets in a trade the whole world knew was coming. They took advantage of Brooklyn’s newfound cap crunch in the wake of adding Harden’s $40 million-plus annual salary. Someone was going to take advantage of being a trade facilitator. Altman made sure he was the one to do it.

For the Cavs, the trade really boils down to this:

Cleveland receives: C Jarrett Allen and F Taurean Prince

Cleveland trades: G Dante Exum’s expiring contract, Milwaukee’s 2022 first-round pick (acquired in the George Hill trade), and Cleveland’s 2024 second-round pick

What a steal!! The Cavs have acquired their center of the future with the 22-year-old Allen and a quality wing in Prince. Allen will be a restricted free agent this offseason giving the Cavs the right to match any offer. The team obviously made this trade with the intention of signing him long term.

Allen was averaging career highs in almost every major statistical category before the trade. He is a well-established rim protector who slots in perfectly with Cleveland’s defense. A fantastic lob threat and an improving free-throw shooter, Allen should be effective offensively next to Cleveland’s emerging backcourt.

Besides his massive afro, he’s best known for sending back potential poster dunks. He’s already done it to some of the game’s best.

For now, he will have to share minutes at center with Andre Drummond and JaVale McGee. Both veterans are on expiring deals and could be traded to a contender or let go in free agency. Drummond’s days in Cleveland seem numbered. The same goes for McGee but unlike Drummond, there was never any real chance he would stay beyond this season.

Drummond won the league rebounding title last season and is a two-time All-Star. Although he’s a terrific player, he doesn’t fit Cleveland’s timeline. An elite rebounder in his prime, he’s more suited for a team that can win now. This trade saves the Cavs from overpaying him on an extension when his production inevitably declines. Regardless, it’s hard to envision Drummond on the team next season.

Prince has had a number of good seasons recently with Brooklyn and Atlanta. His numbers and minutes are down this season, but that was expected with Kevin Durant joining Brooklyn’s rotation. He’s averaging nearly one steal per game and shooting 36.6% on three-pointers for his career. He fits the team’s needs perfectly as a 3-and-D wing and offers lineup flexibility playing at either forward. Prince is under contract this season for $12.3 million and next season for $13 million.

The Cavs have ample time to determine if he fits the team long term. Cleveland owns his Bird Rights if they want to go over the salary cap to retain him. At 26, his best years are still ahead.

The young Cavs are looking to turn over a new leaf in 2021. Acquiring Allen and Prince — who have playoff experience — adds to the core of players they will keep moving forward. Slowly but surely through a number of small low-risk, high-reward moves, the potential foundation for sustained success is coming into focus. Cleveland now has a player at almost every position they feel could be the long-term answer. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has depth and youth, now they just need to stay healthy.

Cavs Look to Turn the Tide in 2021

There are a number of winners in this trade. Getting Harden is always a win, no matter which team is acquiring him. He’s a superstar and one of the ten best players in the league. Oladipo is another fantastic player and former All-Star who elevates Houston on both ends. A war chest of picks helps solidify their future.

Both Brooklyn and Houston gave up a lot to get those players, which makes sense since they’re the best players in the trade. Indiana gave up the second-best player to get LeVert. For what they surrendered, Cleveland got the most bang for their buck. An expiring contract, late first-round pick, and second-round pick for a franchise center and quality wing depth? Cleveland was a major winner in the year’s biggest trade.

About Avi Carr-Gloth

Avi is an Emerson College graduate with a B.S. in Journalism. Follow him on Twitter @avicarrgloth to stay up to date on the latest Cavs content.

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