The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired JaVale McGee in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers this past week.
LA received Alfonzo McKinnie, Jordan Bell and the financial flexibility to sign Marc Gasol, while Cleveland got McGee and a second round pick.
Given the fact that the Cavs already have bigs on the roster and didn’t necessarily need what McGee brought to the table, some wondered what the rationale behind the move was.
Chris Manning broke down the answer to that on the Locked On Cavs podcast this week.
“The highlight of this deal for the Cavs is not McGee,” he said. “I think he can be a decent lob threat off of the bench. Taking on McGee’s money so that the Lakers can sign Marc Gasol gives the Cavs a future second-round pick.
“Now, it will likely not come until 2023. The Lakers’ second-round picks over the next two years are already spoken for so this pick will be a little bit further down the road,” he continued.
“That is a good thing in my mind because that might be coming when LeBron might be coming off, maybe he’s immortal maybe he’s great forever, who knows, but that’s certainly in the timeline of when he might fall off and you could potentially get a high second-round pick and take a flyer on a guy you like and you could end up taking him or you could use it in a trade of some kind.
“You get this pick, you get a veteran center on a contract that does not harm the Cavs books going forward, you are still under the tax. It is kind of like you get a free draft pick.”
For the Cavaliers, every move they make going forward is about planning for the future.
The franchise knows that for the next few years, the Eastern Conference will be dominated by the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and the like.
As soon as the Lakers won their championship, Gregg Popovich sent Danny Green this message. https://t.co/mnqQsFfXPg
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 25, 2020
Cleveland’s best bet is not to make crazy moves in a mad scramble to be competitive now – it’s waiting out the clock and making smart trades like this one with LA.
A few draft picks here, a few salary reductions there – and all of a sudden you have a squad that can possibly be competitive five years from now.
McGee may be the biggest name involved in the Cavaliers-Lakers swap, but he wasn’t the main reason Cleveland made the move.