It’s hard to imagine 2018 getting any worse for the city of Cleveland than it is right now. First, they lose in the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year, this time in four straight games. Then, they lose their Golden Goose and hometown hero, Lebron James, to Los Angeles. Finally, the 2018 regular season starts, and there hasn’t been one positive moment for Cleveland fans to hang their hat on through six games.
Not only have the Cavs started out 0-6, but they have also fired their head coach, Tyronn Lue, who led them to four straight NBA Finals trips and their lone championship. Even worse, their best player, Kevin Love, will be out for at least a month and possibly much longer. Love signed a 4-year, $120 million extension with the team this offseason. It was clearly a desperate attempt for Dan Gilbert to keep his Cleveland Cavaliers relevant.
This is a move that has not panned out, as it looks like Cleveland is a long shot to even return to the playoffs this season. That is not exactly pleasant news for the Hawks, owners of Cleveland’s first-round pick as long as it is not in the top 10.
Coming into the season with a proven star like Kevin Love, and some young talent like Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Collin Sexton in a much weaker Eastern Conference, it looked totally plausible that pick would land outside of the top 10. At the very least, the Cavs would be competing for the 8th and final playoff spot.
Now, that looks highly improbable. Cleveland has to have already realized they are nowhere near a championship threat. They are a rebuilding franchise that desperately needs to hold onto their first-round pick. It’s hard to imagine they do not make a concerted effort and do everything in their power to ensure they finish well inside next year’s lottery.
If there’s a positive to the pick landing in the top 10 in 2019, Atlanta will have the rights to the Cavs 2020 first-round pick (once again top-10 protected). If the Cavs pick in the top 10 in both 2019 and 2020, the Hawks will receive the rights to Cleveland’s 2021 and 2022 second-round picks. It’s safe to say, that is quite the drop off in value. Hopefully, Cleveland can turn things around just enough to hand over the rights of their first-round pick to Atlanta.