— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 7, 2018
This is an example of a perfect trade for Cleveland. They take on bad contracts in the form of Dellavedova and Henson, and in exchange, they acquire future draft picks, in this case, 2021 selections.
While this is a fantastic start, the Cavs need to continue seeking opportunities to increase their draft pick pool. They should be talking to contending teams who are in need of cap space next season, as the Bucks were. George Hill’s contract is only guaranteed for $1 million next year, which will provide Milwaukee with some much-needed salary relief.
The Houston Rockets are another team that fits this description, and according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Houston is shopping point guard Brandon Knight and his $30 million over the next two seasons to other teams. So far, there haven’t been any takers, as Knight has failed to reach his potential being a high lottery pick.
Cleveland needs to be talking to the Rockets immediately in order to get a deal done. Houston wants to rid themselves of Knight and add a player who can help them this season, as well as shed some salary in the process. The Cavs have two players who should be very attractive to Houston: Alec Burks and J.R. Smith.
Burks is better than Smith, and likely a better fit with Houston. He is a good all-around scorer and is owed $11.5 million this season, after which he will become an unrestricted free agent.
Smith makes $14.7 million this year and $15.7 in 2019-20, but he is guaranteed only $3.8 million of that. Smith and the Cavs have parted ways, and Cleveland is looking to trade him. Houston could use another good perimeter defender with a three-point shot, as could most teams.
Either player is an upgrade over Knight’s on-floor abilities and his contract, so the Rockets would most likely be comfortable giving up a future first-round draft pick in a deal. That pick would most likely be protected, as the selection acquired from Milwaukee is.
Houston is in win-now mode, so they shouldn’t be too concerned with giving up first-round picks over the next two to four seasons, as a late-round rookie is unlikely to be able to contribute to their team; the Rockets are in a similar situation as the Cavs were over the past four years.
Cleveland already has Dellavedova and Collin Sexton, so they have no real need for Knight as a player. He would be the team’s third-string point guard and would not see much playing time. However, Knight should not be bought out immediately. The Cavs should instead keep him for next season, when all of a sudden, he will be on an expiring $14 million contract, and the team can go through this entire process once again. The same goes for Henson, and in theory Dellavedova, but it’s more likely Cleveland keeps him just because he is a fan favorite and someone with championship experience who can guide Sexton.
The trade was completed just in time for both Dellavedova and Henson to become trade-eligible again in conjunction with another player before the February 7th trade deadline. Neither player is worth much, but they could be needed if the Cavs decide to take on a major contract, such as that of the Memphis Grizzlies’ Chandler Parsons.
Markelle Fultz should still be Cleveland’s top priority before the trade deadline, but adding another first-round draft choice from Houston would be a great way to continue rebuilding the asset bank. Burks or Smith for Knight and a pick makes perfect sense for both sides, and a deal could happen sooner rather than later if the Rockets want to get back into the playoff picture.