August 27, 2014

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NBA Draft: Cavaliers will need a deal to land shooting guard

Many, many years ago, a wise, old reporter pointed out to me that there is a big difference between what you actually know and what you think you know.

I bring this up now, as the hours tick down to the 2012 NBA Draft, because the one thing I know, with absolute certainty, is that I know nothing for sure when it comes to what the Cavaliers are going to do tonight.

Florida guard Bradley Beal has been linked strongly as a possible selection for the Cavaliers during tonight’s NBA Draft. (AP FILE PHOTO)

I think I know a few things, and based on that I tell you the following:

• I think the player the Cavs would most like to have in the draft is Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal, but I also think it will take moving up to the No. 2 pick to make that happen.

• I think Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes are the only real possibilities if the Cavs stay at No. 4, but I am continually changing my mind on which one they will take if they don’t move up to get Beal.

• I think maybe we are trying to dissect the atom here and that Beal, Kidd-Gilchrist and Barnes would all help the Cavs — have you looked at their shooting guards and small forwards lately? — but I also don’t think it’s a lock any of them will be a star.

All that being said, let’s circle back to the beginning.

I don’t know this with absolute certainty because general manager Chris Grant doesn’t divulge such things to me, but, with Kentucky center Anthony Davis set to go No. 1 to New Orleans, I’ve always felt Beal was the player the Cavs liked most in this draft.

The young man who will celebrate his 19th birthday tonight measured 6-foot-4¾ in shoes at the NBA Draft Combine, which was a little taller than most expected, and has great athleticism, mid-range shooting skills and driving ability.

“I wouldn’t hesitate,” ESPN draft analyst Jay Bilas said during a conference call earlier this week when asked about the Cavs moving up to get Beal. “I think he’s the second-best prospect in this draft behind Anthony Davis.

“How could you not need a guard who’s got that kind of ability? I think he’s terrific. He’d be a great backcourt mate for Kyrie Irving. If Cleveland moved up to No. 2, that would be a terrific combo.”

The fact Beal is said to be so great and didn’t average 15 points a game in college is, I must admit, a bit of a concern, but with reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Irving already in the backcourt, the Cavs could have their starting guards for years to come.

What’s more, with the No. 24 pick in the first round — not to mention the Nos. 33 and 34 picks overall — they have assets to get Beal.

If I’m right and the Cavs do like Beal best, they are definitely going to have to use some of those assets, because Washington looks poised to take him with the No. 3 choice if Cleveland doesn’t acquire Charlotte’s No. 2 selection.

As long as the Hornets don’t get ridiculous in their demands, I think the Cavs can get a deal done, particularly because I don’t think Grant has any intention of opening the season with four rookies on the roster anyway. So why not trade one or two of those picks to get the one player you really, really want?

I don’t think Charlotte will take the 33rd and 34th picks, even if the Cavs offer them both, but I think the Bobcats will take the 24th. If that alone is not quite enough — and it should be — tossing in one of the second-round choices should definitely do the trick.

So if you hear Commissioner David Stern announcing the Bobcats as taking Beal at No. 2 and Cleveland selecting Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson at No. 4, know the deal will be officially announced soon and the Cavs will have their man.

Of course, if somehow that is still not enough for Charlotte, I wouldn’t be surprised if Grant, feeling the Bobcats are being totally unreasonable, digs in his heels and says, “Fine, we’ll stay at No. 4. We know we’re going to get a player we like. And we’ll get another one at No. 24.”

In that scenario, I see Charlotte taking Robinson at No. 2 and Washington nabbing Beal at No. 3.

That would leave the Cavs choosing between the professional, ultra-athletic Kidd-Gilchrist, a former high school teammate of Irving’s, and the intelligent, sharpshooting Barnes, who is not only close friends with Irving, but also shares an agent (Jeff Wechsler) with him.

Of course, there are also areas of concern with both players.

Though great at running the lane, finishing on the break and defending, not to mention being a hard worker who wants to get better, Kidd-Gilchrist can’t really shoot. He might be able to get better through more hard work, but if he can’t, that’s a pretty big weakness for an NBA small forward to have.

Barnes, by contrast, is a lights-out shooter with tremendous athleticism, but he can’t dribble. OK, he can dribble, but he’s not very good at all when it comes to putting the ball on the floor and creating his own shot, which renders much of his athleticism useless. That, too, is an area that might be able to be improved upon, but it’s also a rather big concern for your potential starter at small forward.

In any event, regardless of whether the Cavs take Kidd-Gilchrist or Barnes in that scenario — I’ll go with Kidd-Gilchrist if you force me to make an educated guess — it will be Grant’s job to try to sell everyone on the fact his team got the player it wanted all along, that all the Beal rumors were greatly exaggerated and Cleveland was never really that interested.

That much, I know.

But I also think I know it won’t come to that.

Because I think the Cavs will find a way to seal a deal that gets them Beal.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.