Money shaped Cavs’ draft plan


CLEVELAND — In the end, the Cavaliers decided the money it would’ve cost to select in the first round wasn’t worth the talent available. By trading out of the first round of Thursday night’s NBA draft, they added two quality second-round picks who won’t command the same guaranteed dollars as a first-rounder, and also added a future second-round pick that could be used in a future trade.

The Cavs dealt the 24th overall pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the first and sixth selections in the second round (31st and 36th overall) and a 2019 second-rounder. They selected Turkish wing Cedi (pronounced Cheddy) Osman 31st and Syracuse senior Rakeem Christmas 36th. They added St. John’s senior wing Sir’Dominic Pointer with the 53rd overall pick.

Osman, 20, is an athletic 6-foot-8 wing who will probably spend the next two years playing overseas, Cavs general manager David Griffin said. He was selected to the Turkish Basketball League’s All-Star Game after averaging 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds in 25 games. He also appeared in 27 Euroleague games and averaged 6.7 points and 3.7 rebounds, although he shot just 30 percent on 3-pointers.

Griffin likened Osman’s personality to All-Star guard Goran Dragic. Griffin was part of the staff with the Phoenix Suns that acquired Dragic with a second-round pick in 2008 and watched him blossom into an All-NBA player.

Kristaps Porzingis, Mario Hezonja and Emmanuel Mudiay were all overseas players selected in the lottery Thursday. Griffin said Osman was next on the Cavs’ list of European players.

“We look at two years from now, we would never be able to get a player of his caliber in the draft,” Griffin said. “We hope we’re playing at an elite level.”

Christmas, a 6-9 power forward, was a third-team All-American and ACC Co-Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He led the Orange in scoring (17.5), rebounding (9.1) and blocks (2.5) last season and was one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award, given annually to the country’s top collegiate player. Christmas played both forward and center at Syracuse and provides frontcourt depth since the Cavs are expected to lose Kendrick Perkins and Brendan Haywood.

Between his junior and senior seasons, Christmas more than tripled his scoring average (5.8 to 17.5) and nearly doubled his rebounding average (5.1 to 9.1). He led the Orange in blocks his last three years.

“His growth and improvement curve were incredible,” Griffin said. “So the trajectory that his career is on right now is exciting to be part of.”

Pointer, a 6-6 senior wing, would seem a long shot to make the team. He is limited offensively but is a skilled defender. Pointer was Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year and the conference’s Most Improved Player as a senior. He averaged 13.7 points as a senior and ranks third in school history in blocks (172) and fifth in steals (200).

A first-round pick where the Cavs were drafting would’ve cost them about $1.1 million in salary, but about $5 million when cap taxes are added.

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