The Cleveland Cavaliers are reported to be mulling over an Orlando Magic offer of SG Arron Afflalo and the fourth and 12th overall picks in the NBA Draft in exchange for the first overall pick. Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan is making a strong move to obtain the first pick in order to select what he hopes to be a transformative talent for the Orlando franchise. The response by the Cavs will be governed by the other offers received in the approximate 48 hours leading up to the draft and how they see themselves in the LeBron James free agent sweepstakes.
If Cavalier’s General Manager David Griffin sees the team as a potential player in the race for James, then adding a number of potentially talented players to the roster makes sense. Afflalo enjoyed a successful season on a woeful team this year. Coming into the NBA, the shooting guard was not known for his offensive game. Starting with the Detroit Pistons and moving to the Denver Nuggets before becoming a chip in the Dwight Howard trade in the summer of 2012, Afflalo has shown improvement in his offensive game every year. Magic executives have been pleased with Afflalo on and off the court. He has shown a strong work ethic for young players to emulate and has kept his focus while the team has struggled. The possible difficulty in the deal is that Afflalo holds the right to opt out of his contract after the upcoming season.
If Griffin decides not to make a strong push for James, then the Magic proposal may not make as much sense for Cleveland. Current history shows that the best teams are those with at least two transcendent talents at the top of the roster and complementary players filling out the squad. Former first overall pick Kyrie Irving could be viewed as a top shelf player and the first selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, whether it is Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, could also reach that category as well. Afflalo nearly made the all-star team this past season, and probably should have been selected, but he will never be a first or second option type player on a championship caliber team. With Irving and possibly James in the fold, the task becomes more how to fill out the roster around them to maximize team play. The rugged Julius Randle might become more attractive to the Cavaliers for the fourth pick with the fast paced James and Irving running the show.
Griffin no doubt has been presented with a myriad of options to improve the Cleveland Cavaliers’ roster, including the Orlando Magic’s reported swap proposal of Arron Afflalo and its two first round picks. With time now running short on the eve of the draft, the offers made by other suitors for the first overall pick will only improve. LeBron James benefitted the Cavaliers by announcing his intention to opt of his Miami Heat contract well ahead of the end of month deadline, although his reason could have been to signal his intent to his Big Three brethren Dwayne Wade and Chis Bosh instead of helping the Cavs put their best foot forward.
David Griffin and Owner Dan Gilbert have much to decide in the next two days. Other teams looking to trade up into the first overall pick will need to offer up their best proposals now that the Magic have made a strong push to obtain the pick. If Griffin and Gilbert believe they have a good chance to win the LeBron James sweepstakes as they mull over the situation, then pulling the trigger on the Orlando Magic offer of Arron Afflalo and its two first round picks might be a winner.
Commentary by William Costolo