The Cleveland Cavaliers have managed to bolster their roster’s firepower despite dealing with Kyrie Irving trade drama this offseason. Yet, there’s still a significant gap that separates the reigning Eastern Conference champ from the Golden State Warriors, not to mention they will have a much better chemistry heading into year two of Kevin Durant’s tenure in Bay Area.

Fortunately for the Cavs, they are in possession of a ‘trump card’ that will help them catch up or even surpass the Warriors as the most talented team on paper. The Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick, one of the assets the Cavs acquired along with Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder in the trade that sent Irving to the Boston Celtics, is believed to be the key factor to Cleveland’s 2018 campaign.

Major trade

The Cavaliers enjoy the luxury of using the Nets’ pick (potential top-5 pick) to acquire another game-changing player at any point before the mid-season trade deadline in February. New Orleans Pelicans’ center DeMarcus Cousins has emerged as the top trade target should the Cavs make another power move on the trading front, but there’s a level of uneasiness within the Cavs front-office to use the pick for a short-term gain.

With Cousins’ contract expiring at the end of 2017/18 NBA season, trading the pick for a perennial All-Star big man will make the Cavs more formidable talent-wise, but also put the team in tough position in case LeBron James bolts out next year. The Cavs would only commit 100 percent in pulling off another major deal if they get some sort of assurance from James’ camp that he will stay in Cleveland beyond this season.

“The risk of trading that pick to be stuck with somebody else if Lebron leaves, who doesn’t fit a rebuild … they’re not going to let themselves be in the position of having to take years to untangle that roster. They’re holding onto that pick,” says Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Cutting Jefferson

Joe Vardon of provided an update about the status of NBA veteran Richard Jefferson, who is reportedly in danger of being cut before the 2017/18 NBA season officially starts.

According to Vardon, Cavs executives contacted Jefferson’s agent to discuss the player’s standing on the roster after roughly two weeks of training camp.

Jefferson, who averaged 5 points in 20 minutes per game last season, is set to pocket $2.5 million for this coming season, which is far lesser than Iman Shumpert ($10 million) and Channing Frye ($7.3 million) are set to earn. An NBA team is only allowed to keep 15 players on its roster, and the NBA veteran is reportedly neck-and-neck with point guard Jose Calderon for the final roster spot.