• Jeremy Freed

Who Do the Cavs Actually Want to Keep?

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The Cleveland Cavaliers front office has definitely let the league know that they are open for business. After making two of the biggest trades of the young season -- shipping Kyle Korver to the Jazz and George Hill to Milwaukee -- GM Kobe Altman is planning for the future. He's already acquired four future draft picks, and has the benefit of a deep-pocketed owner in Dan Gilbert, who is willing to use cap space to buy assets. The question then is this: who on this Cavs roster is here for the long haul?

Collin Sexton is clearly one. The #8 overall pick in this year's draft has been quietly impressive for Cleveland thus far. Since joining the starting line-up, Sexton has led his team to a 6-12 record -- not amazing, but a vast improvement over their 1-9 start. And in a season not without controversy, the young Sexton, still 19, had to tune out anonymous reports from his own locker room that he 'didn't know how to play.'

To push all that aside and excel, averaging 19ppg-3rpg-3apg on 45-43-88 shooting over his last 15 games is just shy of remarkable. He's third in rookie scoring, fifth in rookie assists, and first on the list of players that are not being actively shipped out of Cleveland. He's a keeper.

Cedi Osman is another. The first pick of the second round of the 2015 draft, he didn't make his debut until the second game of the 2017-8 season. Since that season coincided with LeBron James' final championship-or-bust Cavs campaign, Osman's development wasn't the first priority -- so in effect, this is his rookie year. While he hasn't set the world on fire, he is putting up an 11-5-2.5 in 32 minutes a game, albeit in inefficient fashion. At just 23 years of age, and with a multi-faceted game perfect for the modern NBA, the Cavs would need a big offer to part with him.

Larry Nance Jr. is the third. This isn't the first time Nance Jr. has seen his importance to the Cavs championed in this space, but it is no less true. He has the team's best Defensive Rating bar none, and the best Offensive Rating of anyone who had played more than two full games in the Wine and Gold. While other players may have more noteworthy counting stats, Nance Jr. is the team's most positive contributor to actual team success.

The rest are on the table. Kevin Love is a bonafide star when healthy, but at age 30, his best days are behind him; a fair offer would net him if it became available. The Cavs are assuredly pleased with the redoubled efforts of Tristan Thompson a year after it appeared as though his high-energy and high-impact days were behind him, and would be loath to part with him, but by the time the new wave of young stars is reaching their primes, his best days will be behind him as well.

Many current Cavaliers will be former Cavaliers by season's end, as whispers fly of J.R. Smith finding a new home in the near future, and rumors of Rodney Hood and the recently acquired Alec Burks abound as well. Whatever moves the Cavs make though, we would be shocked to see these core three among them.

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