3 players the Cleveland Cavaliers should regret trading or letting go

Andre Miller, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo credit should read DAVID MAXWELL/AFP/Getty Images
Andre Miller, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo credit should read DAVID MAXWELL/AFP/Getty Images /
1 of 3

In truth, the Ted Stepien Cleveland Cavaliers have a multitude of regretful trades. So many so that the NBA instituted the “Stepien Rule”, forbidding teams from trading consecutive first round picks.

Stepien traded away so many draft picks for seemingly nothing in return. Numerous picks eventually ended up with potential for NBA legends, such as John Stockton, James Worthy, Charles Barkley, and more.

When the Association invents a rule just to stop your owner from intentionally ruining your franchise, you have a tough history in the trade market. Though teams find plenty of ways around this stipulation, its existence might be the biggest way the Cavaliers have impacted the NBA.

Recent years have been quite different, however. The Cavaliers acquired Kyrie Irving in the 2012 NBA Draft first overall after trading for the Boston Celtics’ first round selection. Recently Donovan Mitchell joined Cleveland’s ranks after a blockbuster trade from the Utah Jazz.

On a smaller scale, the Cavs acquired Caris LeVert in a controversial move, but his production in Cleveland has carved him a substantial role on a developing contender.

The modern Cavaliers are not perfect in their negotiations. Hindsight might show an alternate path Cleveland could have followed, one that might have shaped the team’s overall place in the NBA.

Whether it’s keeping this player altogether or receiving a better deal in return, these three losses to the Cavs still leave the heart wondering what could have been.

The Cleveland Cavaliers losing Andre “The Professor” Miller still stings

While Cleveland faithful had every reason to loathe LeBron James’ decision to take his talents to South Beach in 2010, it is hard to argue that the team around the budding superstar was any sort of contender.

One of the worst decisions made came just before James’ journey began. In summer 2002, the Cavaliers traded a young Andre Miller to the Los Angeles Clippers for Darius Miles, who was traded to Portland later the next season. Miller had just recorded 10.9 assists per game in 2001-02, the most in the NBA.

Trading away one of the best young guards in the NBA was not only a poor choice, but Miller’s fit with the future 2003 first overall pick is one of the greatest “What Ifs” in Cavaliers history.

The GM at the time, Jim Paxson, later admitted that the trade was made with the intent to snag LeBron in the draft (subscription required). Tanking for lottery luck is nothing new in the NBA, but the Miller-led Cavaliers were only 29-53 in that season. Losing The Professor guaranteed better draft odds, but there might have been a better route to tanking to keep Miller and still land LeBron.

Once the Cavs got LeBron, the team was so poorly constructed that they could never find a way to build around him. Having Miller would have changed that.

Building a duo of LeBron James and Andre Miller would have given the Cavaliers a much more competitive roster in the early 2000’s. Instead, the Cavaliers were an embarrassment to the league on how to build around a generational talent. James eventually returned after four years (and two rings) in Miami, leading the Cavaliers to a historic 2016 NBA Finals win.

The potential for LeBron and Miller in Cleveland is a great mystery now. Could the Cavaliers have won the championship with those two at the helm? Guaranteeing a championship is impossible, but the team would have certainly been an exciting one to watch.

The next trade also might have led to more championships in the Land and may have been the start to the rebuild the Cavaliers recently completed.