After losing LeBron James to free agency just this off-season, the Cleveland Cavaliers are left with a gaping hole at small forward.
Thanks to some questionable deals in the past, their best option now seems to be second-year player Cedi Osman, who has potential but only owns averages of 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 61 career games. Rodney Hood is also a viable option but the former Jazz player was largely underwhelming last season and have a propensity to get injured often.
A projected starting lineup of Collin Sexton, JR Smith, Osman, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson is a fairly weak lineup and despite being in the Eastern Conference, may not be good enough to make it into the postseason. Among those five players, the weakest link is clearly Osman, which means the Cavs need to get creative in order to upgrade that position.
One realistic way to achieve that goal is to trade for Phoenix Sun’s young gunner TJ Warren, who is an offensively gifted player that can drive to the hoop and get to the free throw line. Best of all, he has the ability to create his own shot, which seems to be a scarcity for Cleveland with severely limited weapons.
A possible deal that benefits both teams is a Warren for George Hill swap, with the Cavs adding a future pick to sweeten the pot. Here why I think they should go all in on this trade.
As I’ve said earlier, adding a player like TJ Warren’s caliber instantly gives them a second option behind Kevin Love. For this career, the former 14th overall pick owns averages of 13.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.0 steal on 50% field goal shooting. Despite having very pedestrian numbers, he has shown last season how he can carry the scoring load and get to the cup at will.
Another great thing about pulling the trigger on this offer is it makes Collin Sexton the unquestioned starting point guard, giving him all the opportunities to grow into a true star. In his lone season with Alabama, he averaged 19.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and almost eight free throw attempts per game. These numbers will only grow as he gets acclimated to the pace of an NBA game.
Going beyond the stat sheet, the Cavs’ first-round selected has proven how big his heart and passion for winning are, as evidenced by how he played 3-on-5 versus Minnesota during the last NCAA season.
These are the type of players a rebuilding team like Cleveland should invest in. He, together with Cedi Osman, Kevin Love, Ante Zizic, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and potentially TJ Warren will make a competitive team in the years to come.
The Suns are another team currently in the reconstruction phase and have a slew of young talent led by up-and-coming superstar Devin Booker, wing players Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges, sharpshooter Dragan Bender, and rookie big man DeAndre Ayton.
They also have veterans Trevor Ariza, Tyson Chandler, and newly acquired Ryan Anderson to help guide the young bucks. What they completely lack, however, is an NBA quality starting point guard to help run the show. While the team has reportedly struck out on a number of stars, George Hill could be an insurance policy.
The 10-year-veteran, who has played for five different teams thus far, is a great shooter with solid defensive capabilities and tons of playoff experience. Hill may not be the best playmaker nor get the most assists, but what he can do is space the floor. He does own career averages of 11.6 points, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 threes on almost 39% percent shooting from behind the arc.
Having a player like him would be an ideal complement to Booker and Ayton because he does not need the ball to be effective. Also, having played in over 100 playoff games means he know what it takes to win and that is something young players are going to appreciate from.
Rather than go into the season with a logjam of forwards, it may be best for Phoenix to ship one out – specifically TJ Warren – for something they actually need.
All in all, this is a fair trade for both ball clubs. They each fill an area of weakness while unloading an excess body they don’t really need. This, after all, is what teams in the rebuilding process should be looking at.
Right now, all this is speculative and only time will tell if the two teams actually engage in talks. Hopefully, they do somehow because it would do them great good to make this move, especially for the Cavs.