Trade Deadline Marathon: Day 2
To Cleveland: SF Stanley Johnson, SG Langston Galloway, 2019 2nd Round Pick
To Detroit: SG Alec Burks
There are a few types of moves the Cavs should be making at the deadline, and they've already engaged in a few of them. In trading George Hill to Milwaukee, they took on long-term money in order to get a 1st round pick -- a common and sound approach for a rebuilding team. In the Kyle Korver deal, they got back two 2nd round picks and Alec Burks -- concrete assets in the picks and a chance to rebuild a distressed asset in Burks who through a combination of injury and opportunity lost his way in Utah. This is more of the latter.
Burks, who can't be traded with any other player yet, has looked strong for the Cavs since coming over from the Jazz in the Korver deal. He's averaging an 11-5-3 (points-rebounds-assists) in just under 30 minutes a game, and if you put him on the Pistons, he'd instantly start and become their 5th leading scorer.
As the Pistons have tumbled out of the East playoffs -- they're now the 9-seed -- the culprit is clear: they get nothing on the wing, and Burks would instantly bring stability to their rotation there. And since Burks is on an expiring deal, they're not sacrificing any long-term flexibility to get him; in fact, by trading Galloway, who's owed $7.3 million next year, they're gaining some, which is why they part with a 2019 2nd rounder as part of the deal.
For the Cavs, that pick is part of the picture -- for all the second-round picks they've acquired in their trades thus far (four, and counting), they don't have one in 2019 yet -- but the bigger component is Johnson. Very few acquisitions work as well in the NBA as a high lottery pick who needs a change of scenery. Johnson, who is still just 22, has yet to start even a full season's worth of games in his four years since being made the 8th overall pick of the 2015 draft.
The most minutes he's ever averaged came last year, when he admittedly didn't do very much with his 27 mpg, averaging an 8.7-3.7-1.6. The Cavs could jump two feet first into the downsizing of the NBA with a super-small starting five and move the athletically-impressive but offensively-limited Johnson into a starting spot at power forward, and put a Sexton-Hood-Osman-Johnson-Nance group out to start the games and try to run the opposition off the floor.
It can't go worse than what they're doing now, and a resuscitated Johnson has a better chance than most on the roster of being a contributor to a future winner in Cleveland.