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Cavaliers gain longterm talent in Jarrett Allen as part of James Harden blockbuster trade

Jarrett Allen
Posted at 5:31 PM, Jan 14, 2021

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers were involved in the three-team blockbuster trade that ultimately sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, and general manager Koby Altman walked away from the trade with a win under his belt.

As part of the trade, the Cavaliers acquired center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince from the Nets while sending guard Danté Exum and a 2022 unprotected first-round pick via Milwaukee to the Houston Rockets.

In addition, the Cavaliers acquired the draft rights to Aleksandar Vezenkov from the Nets, who was selected with the 57th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

While most NBA fans have their eyes locked on the Harden trade as he joins former teammate Kevin Durant and former Cavalier Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, which could spell disaster for three players known for their constant unhappiness, the Cavaliers found a way to come out on top of the mammoth trade.

Allen is a 6-11, 243-pound center whose skill set should make the Cavaliers better on both sides of the floor.

Averaging career highs of 11.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and shooting .677 from the field in 26.7 minutes, Allen provides Cleveland with consistent scoring and rebounding while also blocking shots and using his reach to disrupt opposing offenses.

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said on Thursday that he sees the offensive upside to Allen and there are many reasons why he’s excited to have him in Cleveland, but he said Allen’s rim-protecting ability is among his top.

Altman said Allen adds long-term ability to the way the Cavaliers want to play moving forward, both in adding to the defensive mentality of the team while also knowing his offensive role.

The Cavaliers didn’t just acquire good talent in Allen–they acquired young talent.

At just 22 years old, the Cavaliers have seemingly locked up the center position for future seasons with Allen’s acquisition. Sure, the team is already loaded with centers, including Andre Drummond and JaVale McGee, but with Allen’s age and abilities and Drummond set to enter free agency at the end of this season, the Cavaliers may have gotten a head start on the replacement search, although Altman said Drummond's future this offseason is still being looked at.

Cleveland can work through its center rotation throughout the season and into the trade deadline before making any other roster decisions and now have plenty of options moving forward.

The Cavaliers also acquired Prince, a 6-7, 218-pound forward who can provide depth and scoring off the bench.

Prince has played in 12 games with the Nets this season, with four starts, averaging 8.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 18.2 minutes. Prince owns career averages of 11.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 26 minutes over five NBA seasons.

In each of the last three seasons, Prince has made over 120 three-pointers and notched a single-season career-high of eight double-doubles last year.

On Thursday, Altman said that while Prince hasn't had a highly consistent role during his career, they'll continue to evaluate him on the Cavaliers and added his "skill set and mentality is something we want to see here. But he'll have a chance to play."

Altman came out on top, not just because he made the Cavaliers better in the long run, but because he gave up next to nothing to do so.

Adding Allen and Prince to the roster as part of the trade "was too good to pass up," Altman said.

Exum was not a pivotal part of the Cavaliers, appearing in just six games with three starts and averaging 3.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 19.3 minutes this season. The team, in related moves, waived center Thon Maker and released guard Yogi Ferrell, who were both recently acquired. And the draft pick given up, with Giannis Antetokounmpo re-signing with the Bucks this offseason, will likely fall to the late 20s.

Altman said that this season is more about evaluating the team, and they threw size at the defensive issues the team had dealt with last season, and Allen was the next step in doing that.

Bickerstaff hinted that fans might see Allen make his debut with the Cavaliers on Friday night as the team takes on the New York Knicks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

"You'll probably see it tomorrow night," Bickerstaff said.

Can't wait.

RELATED: Rockets trade James Harden to Brooklyn Nets

Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.