Part 1 of a 2 part post on the Cavs offseason needs and moves.
The talks of a Kevin Love for Paul George trade are all over the place recently. These rumors have been around since George announced that he would not return to the Indiana Pacers after next season, but they have reached a fever pitch in the last 24 hours. First the Cavs were targeting George, but the Lakers quickly became the front runner for him. Then Jimmy Butler was rumored the be headed to Cleveland, but shortly after that rumor surfaced he ended up going to Minnesota. So here we are, back to Cleveland reportedly being close to a three, or according to some reports, a four team trade which swaps Kevin Love for Paul George.
Virtually every rumored move involving the Cavaliers has involved Kevin Love….but why?
In the past I wrote a post titled “K-Love gets no Love” (which you should definitely read if you haven’t already) and that seems to continue, even among Cleveland fans. You wouldn’t think that a fan base so starved for a winner, and used to having franchises with frugal owners hesitant to spend money would be so willing to toss a perennial all-star like Love aside for a guy, who just a few years ago, showed everyone what a tibia looks like during a basketball game.
Big 3 Version 2.0
Does Paul George really make the Cavaliers drastically better? Lets take a look at the numbers:
Kevin Love 2016-2017
19 PPG, 43% FG, 37% 3PT, 11.1 REB, 1.9 AST
Paul George 2016-2017
23.7 PPG, 46% FG, 39% 3PT, 6.6 REB, 3.3 AST
Essentially you are gaining a little over four points a game, but giving up four and a half rebounds. Also, keep in mind that with the Pacers, George was the centerpiece of that offense, while Love is the third scoring option here in Cleveland. George would have to learn where and how to fit in with Cleveland which will take some time.
It has taken three years, but Love has learned how to fit into his role in Cleveland beautifully. Love doesn’t need the ball in his hands, and gives Cleveland a down low presence who can also cause problems for opposing teams’ big men with his ability to shoot from three. His length and rebounding ability are something that Paul George wouldn’t bring to Cleveland.
Adding George is statistically a net-loss for the Cavs.
So what do they need to do to overcome the Warriors in 2017-2018?
#1 Carmelo Anthony
This only makes sense if a few different things all fall into place.
The Knicks would have to buy out Melo this summer, which looks like it could be a real possibility considering the full no-trade clause in Anthony’s contract and a lack of trade suitors willing to take on his massive contract.
Anthony would have to be willing to play for substantially less money than he is used to making. Sure, having his New York contract bought out would mathematically even out his overall income, but playing for the vet minimum or a five million dollar deal worked out with a sign and trade (via Cleveland’s trade exception) would require Anthony to put his ego aside to potentially win a championship and play with his good friend LeBron James.
Melo would also have to be willing to take on a much different role with Cleveland than he is used to. He would have to play off the ball more than ever before, but having him as a catch and shoot threat and in the pick and roll could be a devastating addition.
Part of me cannot see Carmelo Anthony making the sacrifices necessary to make a move to Cleveland work, but then again maybe he can. The way Anthony has handled Phil Jackson’s dismissive and disrespectful comments in New York shows a level of maturity and professionalism that could be helpful in making something like this work.
#2 Upgraded Defense
This still doesn’t address one of Cleveland’s most glaring deficiencies….The defense.
According to NBA.com the Cavs have the fifth best defense in the league, but considering the Golden State Warriors have the #1 ranked offense and defense in the league, fifth isn’t going to cut it.
So far this offseason the only realistic rumor out there that would address Cleveland’s defensive woes is the addition of former Cavalier Danny Green. Now this move would be helpful without a doubt, but it isn’t “the answer”. There have also been outrageous claims like the Cavs are pursuing Kawhi Leonard, but lets stick to realistic options.
In 2015-2016 the Cavs defense was much better than this past season. What changed? Ty Lue replaced David Blatt as head coach and the Cavs got a year older. While I was never a big David Blatt fan, his more Euro-style of coaching had the Cavs number one in defense in 2015-2016. The roster wasn’t drastically different, but the rotations were.
The Cavs have got to get younger and bigger in order to compete with a team like the Warriors while not making too many drastic moves that would compromise the chemistry of the current team. Ty Lue is a young coach, and was an assistant previously with the Cavs, so would he be opposed to bringing in a defensive specialist to help him out?
Make sure you subscribe to my blog to read part two of this post coming soon!