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Cavs' reported trade desire could lead to Warriors' dream deal originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Warriors didn't get the lottery luck they were hoping for Tuesday night. Golden State's own first-round pick stayed pat at No. 14, and while the Minnesota Timberwolves' pick did convey to the Warriors, the selection landed at No. 7.
The 2021 NBA Draft is viewed by most as a five-player draft, with Nos. 6-15 being relatively equal.
So, the Warriors, who are looking to find a way to build a title-contending roster around Steph Curry, own two lottery picks not in the top-five without a real desire to add two rookies to an already young and inexperienced roster. The Warriors would like to add either another star or quality veteran(s) to the roster, and a trade is their best shot to do that.
But that opportunity might not present itself.
If it doesn't, then the Warriors perhaps need to look no further than their Bay Area neighbor for an example of how to parlay a down season into a bolt of lightning back to title contention.
After an injury-plagued 6-10 season, the 49ers pulled off a massive NFL draft trade with the Miami Dolphins, moving up to No. 3 overall to select Trey Lance to be their quarterback of the future.
At first glance, there wouldn't appear to be an opening for the Warriors to make a similar move. But during Tuesday's lottery show, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets could be looking to put their high lottery picks in a trade.
"There are multiple teams, I'm told: Cleveland, Minnesota, Houston, who are going to be very aggressive if they're in the top of this lottery with perhaps putting those picks in trades to bring back young veteran players or All-Star caliber players to accelerate their rebuilds," Wojnarowski said on ESPN shortly before the lottery.
The Rockets landed at No. 2 and the Cavs at No. 3.
Of those two, the Cavs are the team the Warriors should hone in on.
Cleveland has a dynamic backcourt in Darius Garland and Collin Sexton and is expected to re-sign center Jarrett Allen. They selected Isaac Okoro in the first round of last year's draft, but other than him things are pretty barren on the wing.
So, if the Warriors can't find a deal to bring them another superstar to pair with Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, perhaps going the other direction, and swinging a deal for the No. 3 pick with the Cavs is their best option.
If the Cavs are seriously considering shopping their pick, that should certainly interest the Warriors as it could provide an opening to select Jalen Green, who many believe has the highest ceiling of any pick in the draft.
Green, 19, played this past season with the G League Ignite team after choosing to skip college. At 6-foot-5, Green is the best scorer in the draft, combining insane athleticism with a silky jump shot. He has video-game-like speed and bounce, is an acrobatic finisher at the rim and has the ability to knock down 3-pointers off the dribble.
While Jalen Green has some holes that need to be ironed out, those would be minimized playing alongside Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green, and his shotmaking ability is exactly what the Warriors were missing last season when Curry had to carry an immense offensive load with Thompson injured.
Green's playmaking and passing need some work, which means he will be more suited to play off-ball early in his career, which again makes Golden State a great situation for the 19-year-old. Green's shotmaking and athleticism mean he should be able to contribute immediately next season without having too much pressure thrust on him.
So, what does the history of lottery picks trades tell us such a move will cost?
There have been two recent trades that fit, albeit not perfectly, the potential cost for the Warriors to move up from No. 7 to No. 3.
In 2018, the Dallas Mavericks moved from No. 5 to No. 3 by trading the Atlanta Hawks No. 5 and a top-five protected first-round pick in 2019. The Mavs selected Luka Doncic and the Hawks took Trae Young.
The next year, the Hawks traded two 2019 first-round picks (No. 8 and No. 17), a 2019 second-round pick and a protected 2020 first-round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for the No. 4 pick (De'Andre Hunter), a 2019 second-round pick and a conditional 2023 second-round pick. This trade was agreed to during the draft and completed after the fact.
So, in short, the Hawks traded three first-round picks for a first-round pick and two second-round picks.
Let's use that as a starting point while noting the Cavs reportedly desire a veteran piece who can help them move along their rebuild.
If the Cavs do demand a veteran in the deal, the Warriors' only options are Andrew Wiggins or Kelly Oubre Jr., assuming Oubre would agree to a sign-and-trade that couldn't be completed until Aug. 6.
Wiggins is set to make $31 million next season, and the Cavs, assuming they re-sign Allen, won't have the cap room to absorb a contract. So, the Warriors would have to take back pieces to make the money work, and to be honest, there isn't much on Cleveland's roster that would allow the Warriors to stomach losing a two-way wing like Wiggins.
The options then become the No. 7, No. 14 pick and potentially a future protected first-round pick, or No. 7, No. 14 and a sign-and-trade involving Oubre that would see the Warriors take back a contract like Taurean Prince or Larry Nance Jr. and another small piece to facilitate the money.
This deal would involve the sort of back-channeling that happens all the time in the NBA, with Oubre agreeing to sign a lucrative deal with the Warriors, who own his Bird Rights, and get sent to Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Cavs would draft Green and the Warriors would select two prospects of the Cavs' choosing at No. 7 and No. 14.
While the Cavs reportedly desire a younger veteran or star who can help speed their rebuild up, their roster looks more like a team that could use two lottery picks instead of one, especially if they aren't wild on drafting a young prospect like Green.
The Cavs' roster could greatly benefit from adding two players like Moses Moody, Josh Giddey and Keon Johnson, who have skills Cleveland's roster sorely lacks.
Cleveland still is in the process of a long rebuild and finding a way to turn one first-round pick into three will give them the assets they need to stay on their desired path.
As the Warriors try to simultaneously contend for titles while building toward the future, Green is the ideal option to achieve that goal. He can provide scoring and athleticism off the bench immediately while growing into the next franchise star alongside James Wiseman.
The Warriors would prefer to find a way to acquire another All-Star, but if that opportunity doesn't present itself, the Cavs could give them an opening to run a similar play to the one the 49ers pulled off a few months ago.