Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen A. Smith on K&C: Cavaliers are vulnerable

June 20, 2017 - 9:42 am

ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith joined Kirk & Callahan with Mike Mutnansky and John Tomase filling in on Tuesday to discuss all things NBA, including the Celtics' interest in Jimmy Butler and potential issues in Cleveland.

Smith reported on Monday the Celtics being interested in Butler by way of their No. 3 overall pick which they acquired from the 76ers. Smith believes the best route for the Celtics is a potential Butler-Gordon Hayward combination instead of Hayward-Markelle Fultz. This is because he believes the Cavs are "vulnerable."

“I believe so, only because you’ve got multiple picks in the future," Smith said. "I mean, you look at 2018, 2019 and the picks you have available to you, it’s not like you are salvaging your future and going for it all now. Boston is in the rarified position of being able to go for it now and still have your future in tact because you have enough young guns, and you have experienced dudes as well. Then on top it all you have draft picks coming down the pipeline where you can continue to buffer this roster. That is why I believe if you didn’t have any future picks in 2018 and 2019 then I would be a bit reluctant because I still don’t know if that definitely will be enough to knock off LeBron and the Cavs.

"Because you have a future to look forward to, better than most teams in the NBA because Danny Ainge without question has done an exceptional job, I think you go for it now because Cleveland is vulnerable. I think this is the most vulnerable LeBron has been in the Eastern Conference since he departed Cleveland the first time for Miami. Why not go for it if you’re Boston?”

If the Celtics were in fact in on Butler, Smith says it would take a package involving more than just the No. 3 overall pick.

“It definitely isn’t going to take just the No. 3 pick," he said. "Chicago would be asking for more. It doesn’t necessarily mean in the form of a draft pick. It could also mean getting an additional player. You have the Avery Bradleys, the Marcus Smarts, Kelly Olynyks of the world. You have the respectable players on your roster who can make a contribution and can help you rebuild two, three, four years down the road if you are the Chicago Bulls. They are entertaining all of that. I do not know the specifics, I do know that the No. 3 overall pick wasn’t going to be enough in their eyes to relinquish Jimmy Butler. They wanted a little bit more than that. From what I was told, it was nothing that the Boston Celtics couldn’t do. It was just a matter of if Danny Ainge would want to do it because Chicago knows there are several suitors for Jimmy Butler.”

As for the Cavs, they fired general manager David Griffin on Monday and according to Smith are preparing for life without LeBron James. Smith believes LeBron will depart after next season and could head out West either to the Clippers or Lakers.

“Griffin left as you all know," Smith said. "Dan Gilbert is preparing for LeBron James to skip town after this upcoming season and he doesn’t want to be caught unprepared moving forward with a franchise nosedive because LeBron James has left again. He’s putting pieces in place from an executive perspective to prepare for the departure of LeBron James, plus LeBron James doesn’t want to do what he did years ago -- even though he doesn’t have anything but a business relationship with Dan Gilbert. They still don’t really talk since that letter Dan Gilbert wrote back in 2010.”

Added Smith: “In terms of what they are going to do, they are looking to move somebody. Whether it is Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving it’s unclear. I know if it was David Griffin, it would be Kevin Love that would be moved, Kyrie Irving would stay put. Because of Dan Gilbert it could be anybody because he is not going to be caught with his hands empty in the event LeBron James leaves like last time. That makes Cleveland very, very vulnerable because it’s as unstable of an environment LeBron James has been in since he departed Cleveland the first time. That is what makes them so vulnerable right now.”