LeBron should still be top priority in Cleveland as trade deadline nears

NBA.com Global on Jan 18, 2018 07:44 AM
LeBron should still be top priority as trade deadline nears
FILE - BOSTON, MA - MAY 17: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands for a moment of silence for the National Anthem before the game against the Boston Celtics during Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2017 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Tas Melas, NBA TV

Giving up the future for the present? I’m crazy. Let’s do it.

After parting with GM David Griffin after the 2017 Finals, Cleveland’s front office is playing from behind with its franchise savior, LeBron James. They need to go on the offensive to get back on side with the King. As he approaches free agency, the priority should be do everything to keep LeBron around, and that includes trading the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 1st-round pick.

The return is important, but keeping the NBA’s greatest player content with the team’s direction is even more significant. It’s time to show him they’ll do what will help him win now. It’s not quite a Hail Mary,but it’s a try down the field worth taking.

It’s a calculated risk. The Nets aren’t bad. They currently have the 8th worst record in the NBA and their starting backcourt has been injured virtually all season with D’Angelo Russell expected back soon. Brooklyn may not make the playoffs, but it is too scrappy and well-coached to fall to the NBA’s basement.

But can’t Cleveland keep the Nets’ pick and trade something else? Cleveland could trade its pick, which is currently in the mid-20s, sure, but anything of value the Cavs could trade from their roster that would warrant some return is too integral to their own playoff push. That’s where GM Koby Altman comes in. He secured a heck of a package for Kyrie Irving last summer. He seems to have the power to turn a late first-rounder into a worthwhile piece, but I would be comfortable letting go of their higher selection if it meant getting a contributor (especially defensively).

The Cavs’ window is now, even if it’s in conjunction with the Warriors’ run. And, I don’t think pressure from the Cavs’ locker room will force Altman to do anything, but he has no choice but to pay for the franchise’s past transgressions.

Even if they acquire something of value, could LeBron still leave? Oh, yeah. So, is it worth it? Even if the Cavs never win another championship, keeping James on the roster as long as they can is of enormous value.

Best of luck to Altman, a man in a tough situation.

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