It was reported on Wednesday by Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski that the Cleveland Cavaliers have inquired about acquiring Portland Trail Blazer and two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. Cleveland has been slowly beginning to put together a plan to bring Lebron James back to his home state (James has the ability to opt out of his contract with Miami in the summer of 2014) and apparently Aldridge is a player Cleveland would like to have to persuade James to return.
But when a franchise is looking to trade for another team’s All-Star, it comes down to what they have to offer. Looking at the Cavs’ potentially available pieces in this rumored deal, the chances of Aldridge being dealt to Cleveland are about as likely as Lebron returning to the team that drafted him (Hint: They’re not good).
Other than Kyrie Irving, everyone on Cleveland’s roster is available and according to Wojnarowski, the Cavaliers are offering a number of young players and draft picks for Aldridge. While Yahoo! Sports doesn’t provide specifics, the most logical players in a prosed deal would include former top-five picks, Tristan Thompson or Dion Waiters.
But guess what, even if Cleveland offered both players and their top-five pick in this year’s draft, that still wouldn’t be enough of a package for Portland to consider trading their best player.
Thompson showed great improvement from year one to year two (specifically in shooting and defensive rebounding), but he’s still not enough of a talent for Portland to warrant replacing Aldridge with. Thompson still struggles with finishing at the rim offensively and while his defense is solid (an area Portland greatly needs to improve), it isn’t game-changing good.
With the departure of Jared Jeffries last week, Aldridge is now Portland’s oldest player at 27. He’s in the prime of his career so why would the Blazers trade him now to get a 22-year-old player who’s still a work-in-progress? With such a young nucleus to begin with (Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews are all 26 and under), the Trail Blazers will be looking to add established players rather than more young prospects.
Waiters was a player on Portland’s radar in last year’s draft so it would seem plausible that they would have an interest in the guard. But like Thompson, Waiters isn’t enticing enough for the Blazers to give up their franchise player.
Waiters had an erratic rookie season for the Cavs. He missed 21 games due to injury and his terrible shot selection resulted in season averages of 41 percent from the field and 31 percent from three. He also struggled mightily on defense — often appearing lost in reacting to screens and understanding how to rotate in space. Portland’s two best defenders play on the perimeter (Batum and Matthews) so the only ideal reason to have Waiters would be to provide offense off the bench. Again, not enough of a reason (no matter how bad Portland’s bench was this year) for the Blazers to depart with Aldridge.
And then there’s Cleveland’s draft pick. Experts are saying this year’s draft is one of the worst in recent memory. Case in point: a recent mock draft has the Blazers taking the once highly-touted Shabazz Muhammad at number ten. So Portland has just as much of a chance at landing a quality player in this year’s draft as Cleveland does in the top five.
So as you can see, two shaky young players and a high draft pick that isn’t that valuable doesn’t sound very exciting. Aldridge has two years and $29.3 million remaining on his contract. In a couple of years he will seek another big deal and whether or not he accepts another one from the Blazers will depend on how fast the team returns to playoff contention. On paper Cleveland’s deal sounds good: one, maybe two former top-five picks and another top-five pick in the 2013 draft. But when you really break it down, any deal they offer that doesn’t include Kyrie Irving isn’t in Portland’s best interests moving forward.