The three-team trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks and OKC Thunder made for new and interesting dynamics for the NBA season. Sportsbook Review's analyst Megan Rochester takes a look at what took place in the trade, and what it could mean for your NBA picks in the future.
This may not have been the draft of big named players, but it is a draft worth talking about. In this one, we’ve got this season’s disappointment (Cleveland Cavaliers 19-16 SU), this season’s embarrassment (New York Knicks 5-32 SU) and a team with questionable trade morale (Oklahoma City Thunder after losing elite James Harden).
Here’s what went down:
Gained: Dion Waiters (From Cavs)
Gave: Lance Thomas (to Knicks) and a protected first-round pick (to Cavs)
Gained J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert (From Knicks) and the protected first-round pick (From OKC)
Gave: Dion Waiters (to OKC) and Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk & 2019 second-round pick (To Knicks)
Gained: Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk & 2019 second-round pick (from Cavs) and Lance Thomas (OKC)
Gave: J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert (to Cavs)
Why these teams made moves like these? And what it could mean for your NBA picks in the games to come?
OKC Looking for Redemption
It’s hard for me to say “(insert team here) definitely came out the winner in this draft.” But I can definitely tell you who came out looking like a fool – the Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s obvious that Oklahoma City is focusing on the present and not the future. GM Sam Presti traded a first-round pick to Cleveland for Dion Waiters. DION WAITERS. Waiters is a proclaimed nut-case who doesn’t pass the ball, shoots 25 percent from behind the arc, and whose biggest contribution to the NBA this season has been a good joke on social media.
Was this a smart move? We know the Thunder team is looking to figure out how to replace their great mistake losing James Harden to a trade in 2013, and Waiters seems to be the newest attempt of trade redemption. The Thunder squad is very similar to the Cavs team in terms of their star players are always in the spotlight. Will Waiters be a good decision? Or could he cause the same sorts of problems that the Cavs experienced?
Kevin Durant seems to think he can make him part of the team. He stated to ESPN on Tuesday, “We’re going to make him feel wanted. I don’t think he’s felt that the last few years.”
I’m thinking the OKC is about to have issues balancing the floor with Waiters in the picture. He’s got too much pride, a shoot first no defense mentality and no stats to back it up. The OKC may struggle with their line-up for a while until they figure out what to do with their new guy. Don’t depend on the Thunder squad with your picks in their upcoming games right now, but possibly in the future. Talk of Reggie Jackson making a move over to the OKC is likely. This won’t be the last trade the Thunder makes this season.
Cavs’ Loss is Cav’s Gain
Whew. The Cavs dodged a bullet headed with this draft. Getting rid of Dion Waiters was a weight off their shoulders. The guy was sitting at a career-low (10.5 PPG, 2.2 assists, 40.4 percent shooting), and gave their top-rated PG Kyrie Irving a headache every chance he had. Not to mention he was like quicksand for the Cavs’ defensive efficiency. Their offensive rating sunk from 109.4 to 101 when he was on the floor.
Shumpert coming in from the Knicks could give Cleveland the shooting guard they were missing from Waiters. The newcomer should contribute decent (and much more efficient) defense on the wing, nail the three in the corner and won’t mind stepping out of the spot light and playing as a complimentary player to big dogs LeBron and Westbrook. Smith was also a nice bonus trade to cover some offensive ground while LeBron and Irving recover from injury.
The Cavs still haven’t figured out what they are going to do about a center which is their biggest problem on offense at the moment. Upside is that they do have a first round pick from OKC that addresses a lot of those concerns (Big Props to Cavs GM David Griffin who negotiated favorable protections: top-18 protected in 2015 and top-15 protected in 2016 and 2017) – of course, it will be targeted at replacing their center Anderson Varejao.
Yes, they forked over a lot of cash for this trade, but if they can figure out how to land a center like Varejao, they are going to be in great shape to finish off as one of the best in the East.
The Cavaliers will still have to wait until LBJ and Irving are healthy once again, but once they are, expect to see a lot more covers ATS with what will most-likely be stronger defensive game and more camaraderie between players on the court.
Knicks Nix the Roster for a Clean Slate
Believe it or not, the Knicks made a smart move in this draft even though it put their team at an all-time low. They really have their work cut out for them, and a record of 5-32 certainly reflects that.
GM Phil Jackson shed off mediocre players for a major gain in cap room ($30+ million) to make moves in drafts to come. By letting Smith and Shumpert go, he left room for major improvements to the roster.
The Knicks are at the bottom of the ranks as of right now, but instead of dwelling on the present, they are planning for a bright future. The Knicks are on the fast track to the top of the 2015 lottery order, and Tim Hardaway Jr. and Cleanthony Early are younger players on the team who now have more playing time to build their strengths for the seasons to come.
The Knicks made some bold moves, and are now worse than they were before (wait, that’s even possible?), but sit tight Knicks fans. In 18 months time, we could be looking at the franchise back at the top of the rankings.
For now, steer clear of Knicks picks. They are headed in the right direction, but it’s going to be a while before we see results.