Two years on and the only undisputed winner of the James Harden-Brooklyn Nets-Houston Rockets blockbuster trade are the Cleveland Cavaliers. No, the Cavs were not the focal point of the trade, but GM Koby Altman managed to squeeze his way into the deal and land big man Jarrett Allen.
Since the trade, Allen has developed into an All-Star and is a key reason for Cleveland owning one of the NBA‘s most efficient defenses for two years.
Yes, it’s possible that the Cavs fleeced the Nets two years ago, but Cleveland’s business with Brooklyn might not yet be finished. According to Chris Fedor of cleveland.com, the Cavaliers are eyeing a playoff matchup against the Nets.
“No one inside the organization would say this publicly — and they shouldn’t. But multiple people I’ve spoken to recently are privately hoping for a Brooklyn matchup,” Fedor reported.
Fedor went on to explain why a showdown with the Nets makes for the “easiest path” out of the East.
“Brooklyn was 32-20 at the time it dealt Kyrie Irving — a move that preceded Kevin Durant’s departure. While the Nets haven’t completely imploded since those two megadeals, their organizational ceiling has lowered considerably, and they no longer pose the same challenge in a seven-game series. The last time they looked — and consistently played — like a playoff-caliber team was when Irving and Durant were both there. The Nets are 7-11 over the last month-plus without those two superstars. They also have the most inexperienced coach of the potential first-round foes,” Fedor completed.
Not only that, but the Nets could have real difficulty facing off against their former big man.
While the Nets are loaded with wing defenders capable of hanging with Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, they lack the size inside to bang with Allen and Evan Mobley.
Knicks Matchup Dubbed ‘Best’ Popcorn Cavs Matchup
While the Cavs might be hoping for a date with the Nets, the rest of the NBA world is likely hoping Cleveland travels a few blocks over.
Already nicknamed the “Donovan Mitchell Bowl,” Dan Favale of Bleacher Report named a Cavaliers-Knicks matchup as the eighth-most exciting possible showdown.
In a similar fashion to the Allen deal, the Cavaliers managed to land Mitchell over the summer, despite Knicks fans practically already printing Mitchell’s name on the back of jerseys.
But as Fedor noted, the “Mitchell Bowl” has more to offer than just history.
“Tantalizing individual matchups galore are peppered throughout this prospective series, which could reasonably take place during the first round in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 spot. Julius Randle vs. Evan Mobley. Jarrett Allen vs. Mitchell Robinson. Isaac Okoro vs. Jalen Brunson,” Favale wrote.
Mitchell Sounds Off on Butler-Heat Rumors
The Knicks and Cavs weren’t likely the only suitors for Mitchell last summer.
Mitchell had some interest in playing for the Heat alongside Bam Adebayo, but Ethan Skolnick of Five Reasons Sports reported that Mitchell was concerned with sharing the floor with Butler.
“Yes, he wanted to play with Bam, we heard that he was a little bit concerned about playing with Jimmy,” Skolnick said on the Miami Heat Beat’s HangoverTime Postgame Show.
Mitchell fired back over the rumor with a tweet on Tuesday.
“We live in a world where you can just say anything and it just be true smh,” Mitchell said, replying to a story about the rumor.
The Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards tonight.