The Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of the biggest surprises of the NBA season so far. Through the first 18 games, they went 9-9 and got to the sixth seed in the East. Their start can be primarily attributed to the young backcourt duo of Colin Sexton and Darius Garland. Colin Sexton is in his third season in the league after being drafted with the 8th pick in the 2018 draft out of Alabama. Sexton has seen consistent improvement since his rookie year, going from averaging 16.7 points a game to 20.8, and to now averaging 25.2 points a game with an impressive 52 percent field-goal percentage and a 47 percent three-point percentage. Now in his second year, Darius Garland has increased his efficiency and production, going from a 35 percent three-point shooter to a 40 percent three-point shooter and increasing his PPG from 12.3 to 14.3. The Cavaliers further bolstered their young core with the acquisition of Jarrett Allen from the Brooklyn Nets as part of the blockbuster James Harden trade.
However, with the acquisition of Allen, it has raised further questions about the shape of the roster, especially in the front court. Rumors have circulated that the Nets are now interested in Kevin Love or Javale McGee in order to fill the hole in the frontcourt that Allen left. The most interesting question for the Cavs’ season is Andre Drummond. Drummond has played fantastically this season averaging 18.9 points and 14.7 rebounds; however he is an expiring contract, and if the Cavaliers decide a postseason opportunity is not worth it, or if they fall out of the Playoff race entirely, then Drummond could be a valuable piece for a contender or a team looking to offload salary for free agency. The Cavaliers have a solid young core and might decide that it is worth more to build for the future than to have a postseason run that would likely struggle to make it past the first round.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not there is any actual value in Drummond. While he would be a significant help for any team that needs a more traditional big, like the Boston Celtics, his large salary will make it difficult for teams to be able to come up with the matching salary needed in order to facilitate a trade. Yet, the acquisition of Allen, which included giving up a first round pick, signals that he is their center of the future, and that they are moving on from Drummond in the off-season no matter what, so it could be worth it to test the market for Drummond.
Unless the value given for Drummond is high (unlikely given his steep contract) it would be unwise to trade Drummond for scraps just to get something out of him as having a veteran like Drummond could be beneficial for Allen’s development this year and give the Cavs a push to possibly put up a fight in the Playoffs. This reality would be better for the culture of the Cavs, rather than attempt to tank for draft picks, as the Cavs, even without Drummond are probably too good to finish worse than a low pick in the lottery. A self-sabotaging team would most likely only move up a couple picks and, as seen by teams like the Knicks, intentionally tanking can set a team back a decade and destroy the morale of a team. Regardless of what happens with veterans like Kevin Love, Javale McGee and Andre Drummond, Cavs’ fans should be looking forward to the next few years thanks to the newly-formed trio of Sexton, Garland and Allen.