Which player do the Cavaliers trade?
Do the Cavaliers trade Jarrett Allen? That's been the backup plan for the past couple of seasons, the ripcord to pull when this pairing became truly untenable on offense. The lack of pressure before this season and the elite defensive impact kept the decision off the table, but this year may finally force the Cavaliers to make a decision.
Trading Allen makes some sense. There are teams out there that need a center, and Allen is an elite rim protector who has taken a step forward this season as a finisher and rebounder, not to mention as a passer. At the end of the day, however, teams are limited in how much they want to give up for a center, especially a non-shooter like Allen. The Cavs aren't going to get back a high-level prospect or two-way wing for a center, no matter how well he has been playing lately.
What if they trade Evan Mobley instead? It's an insane thought, not only because Mobley still boasts prodigious upside but because teams just don't trade away young budding stars. Early in the season he was a Defensive Player of the Year front-runner as a third-year player. His combination of defensive impact and versatility is truly special. He's hardly a slouch on offense, even if he isn't the floor-spacer the Cavaliers were hoping he would be.
Yet for all of those reasons, Mobley would command a King's Ransom on the trade market. He would get back more than Tyrese Haliburton did, or Kristaps Porzingis a few years before that. He would be a future All-Star and likely All-NBA player, with positional versatility to play the 4 or 5, and the sky as his limit as a player. Even if he never adds a reliable 3-point shot his interior skill, passing and rebounding would make him an incredible fit on many teams in the NBA.
What could the Cavaliers get back for Mobley? Are there teams willing to move off of All-Star players for him? Is there another high-end prospect at another position they could swap him for? What bounty of players and picks would a team give up for a player like Mobley?
The Cavaliers shouldn't panic and make a deal. Just because the Cavs have thrived without Mobley doesn't mean they are better without him. They were a Top-10 offense last season even with the two bigs. But if they want to reach their ceiling, at some point, this team has a choice to make.
Will they build around Jarrett Allen at center, or Evan Mobley? The decision once seemed obvious. It no longer is, and the Cavaliers would be smart to consider both paths before them.