While the Cavaliers have continued to struggle through their worst stretch of basketball yet, rumors have been emerging about the team making a trade for guard George Hill. Even though Hill has struggled in his first year with the Sacramento Kings, he would help the Cavs in a few vital areas—namely defense, three-point shooting, and ball-handling. Cleveland has been starting two net negatives (J.R. Smith and Jae Crowder), and as a result has been falling behind in games quickly. Saturday’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder showed this point quite acutely—the Cavaliers were run off the floor in the game’s first minutes, were outscored 43-24 in the first quarter, made a bit of a comeback with the second unit, then fell way behind again with the starters playing.
Hill has disappointed in Sacramento. He looks unmotivated, uninterested, and unhappy, which makes sense—Hill only signed a contract with the Kings over the offseason because they offered him more money than other teams. He is now facing the consequences of that decision. The point guard has averaged just 10.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 27. 2 minutes per game on 46.1% shooting from the field.
Those modest numbers obscure how good of a player Hill can be. In 2016, he was the second scoring threat on a Utah Jazz team that reached the second round of the playoffs. He averaged 16.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in only 31.5 minutes per game. Hill was also a key for the Jazz’s stifling defense. His 6′ 9″ wingspan overwhelms a lot of guards and allows them less room to move on the perimeter.
Hill’s overall resume indicates a level of performance closer to his play in Utah than his play in Sacramento. He was the starting point guard for those Indiana Pacers teams that reached the Conference Finals a few years ago. A change of scenery to a playoff team will most likely prove beneficial for a player so used to contending. The Cavaliers should expect a great improvement from Hill if he ends up in Cleveland.
Hill would replace J.R. Smith in Cleveland’s starting lineup. He is a better defensive and offensive player than Smith at this point. The guard does not dominate the ball like some other players and can play off Isaiah Thomas and LeBron James. Hill is shooting 45.2% on three-pointers this year, and though his career mark of 38.4% is lower, that is still the number of a terrific shooter. He can hit the threes that Smith and Crowder have been missing.
What would Cleveland give up in exchange for Hill? He is not a star worthy of sacrificing the Nets’ pick, so the Cavaliers will look to trade their own first-round pick, destined for the early-twenties, Tristan Thompson, and another bench player. Sacramento wants to get out of Hill’s sizable 3-year, $57 million deal, so the organization will not ask for too much in exchange. Thompson, who has declined considerably over the past two years, does not have much a place in Cleveland’s plans any longer, and thus is a likely candidate to be traded.
The Cavaliers are also looking at DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers as trade possibilities. The Clippers, however, will look for more in exchange than the Kings, and may not be as willing to make a deal, considering that the team is in position to reach the playoffs. More will become clear as we near the trade deadline.
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