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Make this trade? Al Horford for the 1st overall pick

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Al Horford, the 3rd pick

Al Horford, the 3rd pick (Photo credit: Wikipedia)I posted last week what I believe the Cavaliers will do if they keep the 1st overall pick. But what if they trade it? Rumors are about they’re interested in Demarcus Cousins or Kevin Love in return for the pick.

I posted last week what I believe the Cavaliers will do if they keep the 1st overall pick. But what if they trade it? Rumors are about they’re interested in Demarcus Cousins or Kevin Love in return for the pick.

The team I like as a trade partner for the pick is the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are a team in transition with Josh Smith, Devin Harris, Zaza Pachulia and Kyle Korver all becoming unrestricted free agents this summer, potentially all gone. The core pieces remaining for the Hawks are Al Horford, Jeff Teague (who’s a restricted free agent), Louis Williams who is recovering from an ACL tear and their 1st last year in John Jenkins. They also have the 17th and 18th picks in the draft. The Hawks can choose to remake a lower seed playoff team around Horford, Teague, Williams and their picks. Or they can read the tea leaves as that after 6 straight playoff teams, but non-threatening ones, it’s time to change their tune. If they trade Horford for the 1st pick they would immediately become one of the most rebuilding centric teams in the league – in other words, they would be tanking. With the free agents on the way out and Williams likely missing the start of the season or being ineffective for some time after it, the Hawks very simply, would be awful. They go into a very highly regarded 2014 draft with a top 4-5 pick, in addition to whomever they pick at 1st this season (Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, etc.) and the 17th and 18th picks this year, Jeff Teague, Lou Williams and John Jenkins. If they draft well the next two seasons, the next era for the Atlanta Hawks could be kickstarted quickly. This also wouldn’t hurt their hail mary attempt at luring both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard to Atlanta. While Paul and Howard may find playing with Al Horford interesting, if they had a #1 pick to join such as Noel, McLemore, Oladipo, Porter, along with other pieces like Teague and Williams, it’d also be an alluring situation long term. The Hawks cap opportunities in upcoming years would overall be unlimited. Rebuilding teams recently have used the cap to “buy” picks from other teams, by taking their unwanted long term contract, at the cost of a pick being included. If the Hawks chose to rebuild in a deal like this, it’d be an option.

As for the Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert has been up front about wanting to make the playoffs next year, Kyrie Irving’s 3rd. This is a perfect trade to accomplish that. The frontcourt of Al Horford, Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson is excellent. Horford and Varejao are efficient offensively and intelligent defenders, a winning combination in the frontcourt. When added to a star in Kyrie Irving, a developing scorer in Dion Waiters and other acquisitions the Cavaliers have the assets and capspace to get, they’d presumably be headed for a top 6 seed in the East immediately and from there, they’d climb the ladder to contention. The Cavaliers have enough capspace that a trade like the 1st overall pick and Mareese Speights for Al Horford, easily fits under their cap, in addition to giving them more spending money to work with after. Another reason Al Horford is a great fit for the Cavaliers is he has 3 years left on his contract, not expiring until the summer of 2017. This makes him a very controllable asset, important for the Cleveland franchise. I can’t imagine Horford would be unhappy playing with a star in Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.

I see this trade as benefitting both sides. Atlanta rebuilds with the 1st pick in the draft and immediately heads to the bottom of the league to pick up another top pick next year. That’s a quick, microwave rebuild if done right. Cleveland starts winning in the Kyrie Irving and sets up their chess pieces for the next decade. The varying position of the Hawks and Cavs franchise make this trade a fit.

Written by jr.

May 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm