A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Embrace chaos, trade Irving for Cousins

leave a comment »


Despite a healthy Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love the Cavaliers Finals is going worse than without them last year. There’s a lot of reasons for this beyond them. The Warriors are a different team with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green taking their games to new heights this year and having none of the first Finals nerves they had the first three games last year. The Cavs are all without perhaps their 2nd most important player last Finals in Timofey Mozgov who helped them control the interior.

Mostly this is just a bad matchup for Cleveland. The three series the Warriors have struggled in the most the last two years in Memphis, Cleveland last year and Oklahoma City all had the same story. They used a big frontcourt to control the boards and limit Golden State’s transition game and ability to go small. They turned the series into a fight when the Warriors are most comfortable dancing. In this finals so far the Warriors are dancing. Last year Dellavedova, Thompson and Mozgov playing together gave the Cavaliers the physical edge to mess up the Warriors rhythm.

If this series continue this direction the Cavaliers could be pertinent to move on from the Lebron, Irving and Love era now. The matchup against the Warriors won’t get better next year if they play again. If they luck out and avoid the Warriors, having Irving and Love trying to defend the most athletic team in the league in the Thunder and most athletic player in Westbrook may not turn out better. With a limited supply of prime Lebron James years left the Cavs can’t waste many more opportunities.

Two popular trade rumors are Kyrie Irving for Chris Paul and Kevin Love for Carmelo Anthony. The former would work beautifully for the Cavaliers but it’s unclear if the Clippers want to downgrade at PG especially after watching Irving’s flaws in these finals. Paul’s skill and IQ should allow him to age gracefully and if he declines by his mid 30s, it may only be to the level of effectiveness Irving is right now. Love works on the Knicks, but the  Cavs getting more perimeter orientated, worse at rebounding and not any better on defense could be playing into the Warriors hands.

The trade I like is Kyrie Irving for DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings are currently under the gun with Cousins having 2 years left on his contract, but the history of stars in his position like Carmelo, Deron, Love, Dwight has been the star getting traded before the end of his deal, meaning they likely have to prove themselves by the end of this season and there’s not a great deal of reason to be optimistic about the Kings contending for the playoffs next season. If they do end up trading Cousins one day, trading him for a high draft pick and rebuilding is a hard path for the Kings to stomach due to their draft pick obligations including an unprotected 1st in 2019 to the Sixers. They are also moving into a new stadium making bottoming out less appealing.

Kyrie has three seasons left before he can opt out, giving them a key extra year of breathing room. Since the cap is shooting to the moon, I believe if the Kings are 30 million+ under the salary cap they can also use the sparsely seen contract renegotiation tool to lock him up early one of the next two summers.

He would represent a fresh start for the Kings on and off the court. They would build a modern offensive team with Kyrie as their Curry or Lillard while developing young pieces like Willie Cauley-Stein, Ben McLemore and their top 8 pick this year. At 24 Kyrie is young enough to break out to new heights statistically on his own team and gives them a popular star to launch the new stadium with. The deal stabilizes the feet under the Kings.

For the Cavs, no other player would move them more towards the big ball style that has frustrated the Warriors than Cousins. The Thompson and Cousins frontcourt play as a mega version of the 2015 playoffs Thompson and Mozgov by dominating the glass and force the Warriors smallball lineup off the court when Cousins proved too big for Draymond to guard. While Cousins isn’t known of his defense the Kings have been much better with him on the court on that end, he is one of the biggest and longest players in the league and always leads the league in charges. There’s a chance that like Chris Bosh when he went from Toronto to Miami, when relieved of the energy of carrying the offense he uses his physical tools to become a great defender. This didn’t happen for Kevin Love because his physical tools limited him.

While the Cavaliers would be lacking in offensive guard talent, on a team where Lebron is the real PG, Dellavedova’s defense, passing and shooting may be all the Cavs need at starting PG. Furthermore if they want to they can still trade Love to balance their roster. While they could keep Love to be stretch big and 3rd option beside Lebron and Cousins, a deal like Love for Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson would give the Cavs a badly needed 3 and D player in Crowder, a big man who excels in guarding pick and rolls in Amir while keeping a stretch big to play Love’s in Olynyk. All three players are known for high basketball IQ increasing the chance the Cavs get to a high level of defensive and passing intelligence to match up with the Warriors.

Sure, Cousins is a chemistry risk as he brings chaos wherever he goes. But this is not the time for the Cavs to play it safe. Play to win or go home. Cousins cares too much more than he cares too little and that fire could be tapped into on a winning team.

Advertisements

Written by jr.

June 7, 2016 at 11:58 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: