Grading the Trade for the Cavaliers
There are a few things to like about this deal. Dariq Whitehead has been recovering from surgery all season and has played in just one game (for three minutes) but if he gets healthy he has the potential to be a long-term starter on the wing. Cam Thomas is having a breakout season. Two picks on top of two young players is an intriguing trade package for Mitchell, even if it's significantly worse than what the Cavs gave up for him.
The massive albatross in the room, however, is Ben Simmons. The onetime All-NBA point forward has been incapable of resurrecting that point of his career. He played in six games this season, averaging 6.5 points per game and shooting just four total free throws, before he was shut down with ongoing back issues.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a team that wants to win now, so it doesn't make sense for them to take on Simmons' contract given that he is unlikely to have more than a fringe role in Cleveland. He is making $37.9 million next season and $40.3 million the following season. Adding such a deal would absolutely cripple the Cavs' books.
This deal doesn't blow anyone away. It's an attempt for the Nets to dump Simmons' salary to a team that wasn't want to take on salary dumps. There isn't one blue-chop prospect here given Thomas' stature and passing vision and Whitehead's inexperience and injury history. This deal could be a massive whiff.
If the Cavaliers had their future draft picks available to them, and if Simmons was healthy and playing, perhaps they could flip his salary with draft capital for another player. They could try to do that with the two picks they gain in this deal, but that's a massive risk for a team to take. This trade is mediocre at best and likely much, much worse.
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