The winds of change continue to blow through Cleveland Clinic Courts and Quicken Loans Arena, as the Cleveland Cavaliers made their second deal in two weeks, moving another veteran piece to a playoff contender.
Two weeks ago, it was Kyle Korver going to Utah for Alec Burks, who based on his week and a half with the wine and gold can play.
Friday night, it was George Hill who was moved to Milwaukee, in exchange for veteran big man John Henson, fan favorite Matthew Dellavedova, and most importantly, a first round pick, which based on the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, should be conveyed in 2021.
Hill missed a lot of time this season with a shoulder injury, and when he returned, he really didn’t seem very engaged. In his last game with the Cavs, he played 25 minutes, didn’t score and had three assists.
He may have helped rookie Collin Sexton in practice, but in games, it was clear that he wanted out, much like it was evident he wanted out in Sacramento a year ago before the Cavs traded for him.
Henson, 6’11”, will turn 28 before the end of the calendar year, and is currently out with after wrist surgery, with reports that he can return after the All Star Game. He averages 7.8 points and 5.4 rebounds for his career, and is a solid defender.
He adds some needed size to the roster, a roster that has ignored size over the past few years. He can be a free agent after the ’19-’20 season, making him an expiring contract next year.
Dellavedova will, of course, bring grit and energy, and a good locker room presence. His game and shooting have declined since he left the Cavs after the championship season. Whether he can regain it will be something to watch.
Burks has been a great addition, averaging 14.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in his half dozen games with Cleveland. Don’t fall in love with him though, he has an expiring contract, and will likely be moved for more assets before the trading deadline.
That said, he may be playing his best basketball since the ’15-’16 campaign.
Cleveland also moved Sam Dekker in the deal. Dekker has decent analytical numbers, but in watching him play, we just couldn’t see him as a piece down the road.
GM Koby Altman is in what former GM Chris Grant called “asset acquisition mode”, dealing off veterans for younger players, some on expiring contracts, and draft picks.
It’s a no brainer, really, when your team in 6-20 and lost the best player in the game in the off-season, and you started the year 0-6, that’s what you should be doing.
There is no doubt, the next guy they are trying to move is JR Smith, which may be Altman’s biggest challenge. Korver can still shoot, and Hill was a starter in the second half of the season last year.
Smith’s game has been declining for the past two years, and currently, the team is paying him to stay home.
His contract is an asset though, but it has to be hard for Altman to find a taker for Smith. If he can get something useful in return, then you have to tip your hat to the GM.
Before going all crazy about the front office though, remember, it is easier to deconstruct a roster and collect assets than it is the build a contending team.
A lot of people can collect draft picks, it takes a keen eye to bring in talent. With every passing game, Sexton looks like he can play, be a contributing player for a contender.
That’s a feather in Altman’s cap. If the Cavs have a top three pick in next year’s draft, Altman must convert that into a franchise cornerstone.