The game against the Houston Rockets has exposed the Cleveland Cavaliers’ rebounding problem. Even when Tristan Thompson was on the floor, the Cavaliers were being outrebounded – how much more now that he’s out for at least one month with a calf injury?

With the Philadelphia 76ers dangling around Jahlil Okafor for any sort of trade, the Cleveland Cavaliers must seek to get the third year center to solidify their frontline. While the nearly seven-foot center has a history of injuries for the past two years, there were doubts that this could have been prolonged.


Rebounding problems

“I think defensively we're really locked in, we're really making the effort of getting back transition-wise,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said Thursday (Nov. 9). But with how Clint Capela dominated the baseline with his timely rebound, his statement doesn’t seem to jive with the reality on the floor.

Against the Houston Rockets, the Cleveland Cavaliers were outrebounded, 45-26. But the story does not stop from there as the Rockets managed to grab 17 offensive boards – six offensive rebounds each for Capela and the 6’6” small forward P.J. Tucker. Capela finished the game with game-high 13 rebounds – half of the Cavaliers’ total output, while Tucker finished with nine rebounds.

This only proves the Cavaliers’ lack of presence down the baseline. But even with Tristan Thompson on the floor, the Cavaliers’ rebounding can be shut by teams with dominant big men like what happened against the New York Knicks and New Orleans Pelicans.

Cleveland needs additional ceiling

“We can't rely on just one person for us to be as good as we want to be, whether it's IT or myself or Tristan [Thompson] being out,” LeBron James said Thursday morning during the Cleveland Cavaliers' practice before the Rockets game as posted by ESPN.

“We have guys who have to step up."

LeBron James was right – the Cavaliers must not rely on Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson. Yet having a young superstar who happens to have the size that can match other dominant big men would be a welcome development.

When healthy, Jahlil Okafor has proven that he is a force down the baseline.

And that was even during his rookie year when he averaged 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game.

The problem is whether the Sixers will give the Cavaliers someone who can help get them back to the top, and of course, salary cap space. Plus, there were questions whether he can play his full potential given the history of his knee problem, which has triggered all these trade talks in the first place.

Interested teams

There were feelers from a couple of interested NBA teams after the Philadelphia 76ers openly talks about trading out Jahlil Okafor (no buyout). Among them are the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks – currently sitting at the 14th and 15th spots in the Eastern Conference.

The Phoenix Suns were reportedly interested in acquiring the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. That’s before the Suns got Greg Monroe in a trade that sent Eric Bledsoe to Milwaukee Bucks. Now, rumors suggest that the Bucks are interested in talking to the Sixers to get Jahlil Okafor.