Actually Denver’s love for big men is great news to contending teams in the league like Cleveland Cavaliers; A non contending team like Orlando Magic, a team that is equally famished with frontcourt players however, doesn’t make the cut in this regard.
The Western Conference side’s crowded frontcourt makes it the most appealing team to strike a trade deal with ahead of the season. Just when one thought Denver’s stocked department will get lighter this offseason, it just got heavier with the return of Mason Plumlee. The former Portland Trailblazers Center has recently signed a three year deal with the team worth $41 million.
That takes Carmelo Anthony’s former team’s frontcourt players to nine ahead of training camp; newcomers Tyler Lydon and Trey Lyles, acquired from Utah Jazz on Draft night, have been included in the sum above. Realistically, the Nuggets won’t begin next season with all nine men on the roster particularly in this era where shooting and mobile bigs are coveted more than slow footed non shooting behemoths. Veteran Roy Hibbert is a safe bet to be axed or used as trade bait with Lyles for a three point shooting player.
Perhaps fellow conference dwellers Houston Rockets can finally make the Carmelo deal happen by trading Ryan Anderson to the Nuggets for Will Barton, Lyles, Lydon and a future draft pick. The Rockets then send the package to New York Knicks for Anthony. Lyles and Barton are free agents next season and Denver doesn’t figure to have much salary space with Nikola Jokic’s impending free agency and the capture of Paul Millsap to consider. Though Anderson’s $20 million salary is a big headache, his ability to space the floor fills a critical hole in Denver.
For the Knicks, adding athletic guys in Barton and Lyles fit the free flowing system Jeff Hornacek looks like installing in New York’s offense while Houston gets its final piece to take a serious swipe at defending champions Golden State Warriors. Kevin Durant has stated the rest of the league is trying hard to beat the Warriors and is totally justified seeing the moves being by western teams. But teams in the conference are not the only ones trying hard to end Golden State’s impending dynastic run; two teams in the Eastern Conference are revving to have a go at the Oracle Arena dwellers.
Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers have rebooted their rosters to have a crack at next season’s title by swapping Point Guards with Boston throwing an excellent defender and 2018’s potential number one pick. Kyrie Irving requested to leave LeBron James for Gordon Hayward forcing Danny Ainge to make the tough decision to let Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the valuable pick go to Cleveland. Thanks to this shrewd piece of business conducted by new General Manager Koby Altman, Cleveland is in a good place beyond this season. Depending on how bad Brooklyn Nets play next season, the Cavs could have the chance to draft one of Michael Porter Jnr., Marvin Bagley or Luka Doncic as number one in 2018. Playing professionally for Real Madrid and starring in Slovenia’s shock EuroBasket win, Altman must have eyes on Doncic.
Before that, Cleveland is still bruised from the landslide loss in the finals to the Warriors last season and has taken steps to be better prepared for the next challenge with the first on Christmas Day. Aside getting the Isaiah Thomas trade done, the Cavs signed Point Guards Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon to its roster for depth at the league’s deepest position. However, the team’s Center position is rail thin like the man likely to be axed from the team this season; Edy Tavares. Behind undersized player Tristan Thompson, veteran Channing Frye rarely plays these days and Zizic figures to be a long term project than an immediate help factor.
With Power Forwards in the make of Thompson oozing from the roster in Denver, Cleveland should make the call for tradable Kenneth Faried. The 2014 World Championship winner is a big trade target due to the redundancy of his skill-energy guy, top rebounder and above the rim finisher- and the presence of better options in Millsap, Wilson Chandler and Darrell Arthur. Faried’s expiring contract doesn’t help matters in his camp. However, the silver lining of such a situation is playing for a contender in return for a package of Frye and Zizic to Denver. Getting Faried is key for Cleveland to maintain its high level of rebounding shown in the starting unit by Thompson and Kevin Love since its second unit was one of the worse rebounding sects last season.
Should LeBron leave after this season, the Cavs should be in a good place with a resigned Faried on a team anchored by Love and Thompson.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter