Wins and Lessons with the Cavs: Koby Altman had a solid trade deadline

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Former Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach Ty Lue said this season won’t be measured in wins and losses, but rather “wins and lessons.” With that in mind, and in honor of his memory, WFNY is going to follow along with what we learn every week.

For the past four years, the NBA Trade Deadline has been filled with plenty of news and rumors surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers, all of which focused on the wine and gold improving immediately because they were in win-now mode. Their focus wasn’t about the future, rather trying to be as good as possible for that specific season, giving themselves the best chance to win the NBA title as possible. Whether it was former general manager David Griffin or Koby Altman, they almost did anything and everything to make the Cavs the class of the East.

No longer with LeBron James, that’s not the case anymore in Cleveland, especially this season. Their focus this year has been to acquire as many future assets as possible. They will never admit it, but at 11-41 and with the second-worst record in the NBA, the wine and gold also want to try their best to help their tanking efforts along the way.

The Cavs did just that prior to Thursday’s deadline. When all is said and done, this is what they have traded and acquired this season:

  • Traded away: Kyle Korver, George Hill, and Rodney Hood
  • Acquired: Two first-round picks (Houston in 2019, Milwaukee in 2021), five second-rounders, Brandon Knight, Marquess Chriss, Matthew Dellavedova, and John Henson

Thursday’s deadline was quite a busy one and although they won’t see the fortunes of their trade this season necessarily, Cleveland being able to get the Rockets first-round pick for Alec Burks, while also having to eat Knight’s contract in the deal, is quite a big get for Altman and the Cavaliers. Add in the fact that Knight’s $15.6 million he is owed in 2019-20 will be an expiring contract, one that the wine and gold could flip for even more assets, and it’s quite a haul for a guy that was acquired for Korver in late November.

Craig and Andrew discussed the Cavs and the trades in WFNY’s latest podcast Thursday night:

Unfortunately, the Cavs weren’t able to trade JR Smith for any assets and he reportedly won’t be bought out either, but with all that said, the Cavs still did well overall. The Rockets first-rounder that the wine and gold received will be their first opportunity to prove just how good (and important) acquiring all of those draft assets truly is. Now it’s important to keep track of how Houston finishes off the season. The

Altman and the entire front office received plenty of well-deserved criticism after the Kyrie Irving trade, but with that said, they should receive plenty of praise for what they were able to do prior to Thursday’s deadline and throughout all season to date. They will likely make the postseason, but the worse record they have of the playoff teams, the better the pick it will be.

Now, they just have to turn those assets into something that can help the franchise, both short and long term.  Acquiring all the picks is important, but drafting well and selecting good, franchise-changing stars and role players with those picks is all that matters. While it will be close to impossible for the Cavaliers to compete for an NBA championship any time soon, especially during the current Super Team era, being a playoff team and at least competitive is still vitally important. If players such as Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman continue to develop and improve, paired with guys such as Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. staying healthy, along with Kevin Love returning, the Cavs could be a playoff team next season, especially if they can turn theirs and Houston’s first-round picks into immediate contributors or even starters.

While it’s too early to judge just how solid of a job Altman and the front office did with all of these trades this season, it’s a good start, even if the Cavs may not see the fruits of their labor until years down the road.