Shortly after acquiring the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick from the Celtics in the summer, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman acknowledged that he had an obligation to listen to inquiries on that pick, but suggested that the Cavs had “every intention of keeping it and using it.” A few months later, it doesn’t appear that stance has changed. League executives tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that Cleveland has been very reluctant to include that first-rounder in trade talks to date.
“They would be open to a deal by all indications,” one general manager told Deveney. “But they’re not talking about that pick. That’s the Plan B for the LeBron [James] stuff and from what I know, they don’t want to budge on it.”
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The “LeBron stuff,” of course, is the possibility that James will leave Cleveland as a free agent in 2018 — the club wants to be in position to replenish its roster with young talent in that scenario, and the Brooklyn pick, which figures to be a lottery selection, would be a great start. Still, one league executive suggested that the Cavs’ apparent unwillingness to discuss the pick may be a smokescreen. If the Cavs consider dealing the Nets’ pick, another executive said, it would have to be in a deal for a star.
“The only way they trade that would be a transformational player, someone who can help them win a championship,” the exec told Deveney. “I don’t think there is necessarily a player like that out there, at least not what’s been talked about so far. But you’re not going to deal away your chance at a top player in this draft for the right to lose to the Warriors again.”
The Cavs have been linked to multiple veteran centers on struggling teams, including DeAndre Jordan and Marc Gasol. However, a source tells Deveney that no serious discussions about a deal like that are happening at this point. If Cleveland engages the Clippers or Grizzlies about such a trade, I imagine the Nets’ pick would be the first asset either of those teams asks about.