And It Feels So Good
Cavs Trade for Dellavedova, Henson and Picks in Three-Way Deal
So many of the images you’re going to see of Matthew Delladova over the next few days will be of him clutching the Larry O’Brian trophy or waving to rows of fans in the sun-splashed glory of the Championship parade – like the one up above.
But Delly actually became a household name and local legend the previous summer.
In 2015, with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sidelined for the Playoffs, the Cavaliers – led by the game’s greatest player and essentially an NBA walk-on – proceeded to take one of what’s turned out to be one of the league’s greatest dynasties to six knock-down, drag-out games in the Finals.
One of the great images in all-time Cavalier history are of a simmering LeBron James and an overjoyed Delly celebrating Cleveland’s improbable Game 2 overtime victory from that series. In Game 3, back at The Q, the two combined for 60 points to put the Cavs up, 2-1, in the Finals.
The Warriors ran off three straight wins to take the title that year. And they’d win three of the next four in 2016.
Everyone remembers how that turned out.
On Friday night, immediately after the Cavaliers tangled with the Sacramento Kings, the Wine & Gold made a deal to bring back one of the heroes from one of the greatest chapters in Cleveland history – sending George Hill and Sam Dekker to the Bucks in exchange for Delly, veteran big man John Henson and a trio of picks starting in 2021. (Dekker was later dealt to the Wizards in exchange for Jason Smith.)
Those picks are Milwaukee’s first and second-rounders and Washington’s second-rounder in 2022. Friday’s move comes on the heels of last week’s deal that sent Kyle Korver to Utah in exchange for Alec Burks and a pair of second round picks.
Burks has paid immediate dividends, slamming home the game-winner on Monday and coming off the bench on Friday to tally 22 points, seven boards and nine assists – a feat no Cavalier in franchise history has ever accomplished.
Dellavedova made the Cavaliers as a Training Camp invitee after having a stellar Summer League showing in 2013. He was a four-year man at St. Mary’s College in California, but went undrafted.
He was a fan favorite immediately and, for such a fresh-faced mensch, an unlikely villain around the Association.
The native of Maryborough, Australia, he played in 215 career contests with the Cavaliers, starting 31, and averaging 5.7 points and 3.4 assists per. He appeared in 40 playoff games with the Wine & Gold, starting seven in 2015.
After winning the title with the Cavs in 2016, Delly departed for Milwaukee. But after averaging a career-best 7.6ppg in 2016-17, his numbers steadily dipped over the next two seasons and he found himself appearing in just a dozen games for the Bucks this year.
George Hill had been a steady veteran tutor for young Collin Sexton. And he’s about to get a different type of education when Dellavedova takes the practice floor next week.
”Everybody said he’s a real good guy, a real good locker room guy,” said Sexton following Friday’s game. “We lost George (Hill), which was my vet, so I’ll have to talk to Dellavedova and he’ll be able to lead me how George led me. They say he practices hard too, so we’re going to have some battles.”
One of those “they” would be the Cavaliers’ previous No. 2. Dellavedova can get under a guy’s skin on the practice floor, but he’ll make him a better player.
The other active component of Friday’s deal – John Henson – provides Cleveland with another interesting young big man.
The eight-year vet out of North Carolina has played in 405 career games with Milwaukee, averaging 7.8 points on 54 percent shooting to go with 5.4 boards and 1.48 blocks.
That last number is an area of great value when it comes to Henson. He’s not Dikembe Mutombo, but when he returns from surgery on his left wrist, he immediately becomes the from the top shot-blocker for the 30th-ranked Cavaliers.
"I'm glad my Aussie brother is back. He’s good at throwing lobs to me, so I’m really happy about that."
The timing of the trade was also interesting, allowing the Cavaliers to continue moving pieces if the brass is so inclined.
”This deal satisfied several important aspects for us in terms of having both long and shorter term benefits and assets involved,” said Cavs GM Koby Altman. “We will continue to look for ways to improve and strengthen our position for the future, while enhancing our ability to compete and grow in the short-term also.”
The current Cavaliers are a work in progress. And Coach Drew will continue having to work with moving parts while still trying to win ballgames.
It’s been, at times a frustrating season for the Wine & Gold. But you’ve got to admit that it’s been interesting.
After Friday’s defeat, there was an air of optimism in the locker room.
”I’m glad my Aussie brother is back,” smiled Tristan Thompson. “Brings us veteran leadership, a guy that’s won before, a guy that’s going to push Collin, control the game for the second unit and he’ll make shots. He’s good at throwing lobs to me, so I’m really happy about that.”
It’s ok to be realistic: Acquiring Matthew Delladova doesn’t put the Cavaliers back in Eastern Conference Finals this June. But he’ll make the journey to eventually return there that much more fun.