With former Kansas standout Joel Embiid out for four-to-six months due to foot surgery, the Cleveland Cavaliers, who possess the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, are reportedly moving away from Embiid and are leaning toward taking Jabari Parker with the first pick in the draft.
If the CBS Sports report is true, this would be a smart move by the Cavs for two reasons: First, the team cannot afford to wait for Embiid to heal his fractured foot, as the team already has a playoff caliber-roster at its disposal. And second, picking Parker will officially end the incessant rumors of LeBron James coming back to Cleveland.
Parker would fill a number of needs for the Cavaliers as he can take some of the scoring pressure off of Kyrie Irving and he has a nice outside game, can take the ball to the basket, rebound, defend and is overall a very team-first player. All of these qualities would be much welcomed on a Cleveland roster that has a hard time gelling together.
Picking Parker could also convince Irving to stay in Cleveland. The Cavs have offered him a long-term contract extension, but Irving has been reluctant to put his signature on the dotted line because he wants to see what pieces the Cavs will add in the offseason. But Parker could eventually sway the star guard to keep his roots in Cleveland. Never underestimate the power of playing beside a teammate who went to the same university, especially if that university is as prestigious as Duke.
If this rumor turns out to be true, picking Parker will make the Cavs playoff contenders again. The Cavs are at the stage where they need to win now, and Parker will give them a much better opportunity to do that than a hobbled Embiid.