The Cleveland Cavaliers face a daunting dilemma when the 2018 NBA Draft unfolds on Thursday June 21.
Do the Cavs keep the No. 8 pick and prepare for a possible future without LeBron James or trade the selection for the possibility of landing Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs?
According to a report from Cleveland.com the Cavaliers are among the teams placing calls to the Spurs regarding disgruntled superstar who has requested to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The problem is the Cavs don’t appear to have the necessary assets that would secure Leonard, and even if they did there is still no guarantee that trading for Leonard would keep LeBron in the fold for next season and beyond.
Rumors have been running rampant that LeBron James’ budding star son has already committed to Los Angeles region high school basketball powerhouse Sierra
Canyon, which already has prominent former NBA stars sons on its California State Championship roster.
Couple that with two mansions that LeBron already owns and one can assume that Los Angeles is his likely next destination.
In the meantime, the Cavs have a roster of players that likely over achieved because of LeBron and are vastly over paid, locked in on contracts that would not be attractive to any contending suitors.
One thing is for certain, even if the Spurs trade Leonard they will not be in a rebuilding mold, thus any chance of the Cavs getting a seat at the Leonard table is highly unlikely.
Owner Dan Gilbert has been opening up his checkbook for the past four seasons in order to keep LeBron happy and contending for championships, a glorious span that brought a title in 2016 and four consecutive NBA Finals appearances.
Any other owner would be lauded as being committed to winning and celebrated for his enormous efforts.
Instead, Gilbert is being castigated for not retaining David Griffin as General Manager and his acrimonious relationship with LeBron James.
LeBron wanted the Cavs to keep the disgruntled Irving instead of trading him to the Celtics in a deal that did not pan our according to plans, but had Gilbert did that he would have been faced with the possibility of losing both LeBron and Irving when their contracts expired, LeBron this year and Irving next year.
No one figured that the Brooklyn pick would fall to No. 8, or that the pieces obtain for Irving would not work out.
In hindsight the Cavs could have demanded Terry Rozier in the package that included the damaged Isaiah Thomas.
The Cavaliers are likely looking at the possibility of drafting either Missouri freshman forward Michael Porter Jr., Oklahoma freshman point Trae Young, Kentucky freshman forward Kevin Knox or Villanova junior small forward Mikal Bridges.
None of these players are franchise changers, but Young and Bridges would vastly improve a Cavs roster with or without LeBron.
The 6’10 Porter has made some physical progress and has been transparent with teams about his medical information following the back surgery that derailed his college career before it started. Risk and all, he remains a possible top-five pick.
Young displayed, and more importantly sustained, serious ability as the fulcrum of Oklahoma’s offense. His deep shooting range and intelligent use of ball screens open up room for his creative dribble penetration, and turning the Sooners into an elite offensive team for a large stretch of the season was no small feat. His team fit will be pivotal.
One of the youngest players in the draft, Knox brings a bundle of intriguing tools and is beginning to get used to his body. He put together a solid year at Kentucky while functioning mostly as a spot-up option off the ball, and his impressive frame and improving set of skills suggest he’ll be able to do more than that at the next level.
With a 7-foot wingspan working in his favor, Bridges couples solid defensive instincts with quality three-point shooting, making him a fairly safe bet to provide value in the modern NBA.