Rival GM says Koby Altman is about the only exec who’s as aggressive as Danny Ainge: ‘He’s fearless’

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers are widely considered to be one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA at the moment, and a lot of fans and experts are expecting the Cavs to take the final leap from rebuilding franchise to playoff contender this season.

A huge reason for all the incredible progression that has taken place in the post-LeBron James era is Koby Altman.

Altman has hit on a ton of his draft picks and trades in recent years, and those moves have helped construct a roster that is filled with premier young talent as well as valuable veteran leadership.

According to the words of a rival general manager, a lot of that has to do with Altman being aggressive. The rival general manager claimed that Altman is “about as aggressive” as legendary NBA executive Danny Ainge.

Prior to working with the Utah Jazz, Ainge made his name as an executive for the Boston Celtics. He made some masterful moves during his time with the Celtics. Some of his top moves include trading for Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and former Cavs superstar Kyrie Irving.

His draft highlights include selecting stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. His drafting of Tatum was downright masterful. The Celtics owned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but ended up trading it to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Sixers whiffed and selected Markelle Fultz, who has gone on to become one of the biggest busts in recent league history. Lonzo Ball went second to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics grabbed Tatum third, and it already seems clear that he’s going to be the best player of that draft when it’s all said and done.

So, what about Altman? Which of his moves put him in that upper echelon of NBA execs? Of course, Altman was on the other end of that Irving trade, and while none of the players the Cavs received amounted to much, the Cavs did land the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. That pick turned into Collin Sexton, arguably one of the better young guards in the league.

Sexton is far from Altman's best draft selection, however. Darius Garland is already an All-Star and has all the makings to be one of the best pure point guards of his generation. Evan Mobley has even more potential, arguably, and seems to be destined to have a truly special career.

As for other moves Altman has made, one stroke of genius came in 2021 when Altman managed to play middleman in the blockbuster deal that sent James Harden to the Nets. In that deal, the Cavs got both Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince.

Of course, Allen was named an All-Star last season and looked like one of the best two-way bigs in the NBA.

Other top deals include acquiring Lauri Markkanen in a sign-and-trade deal and nabbing veteran point guard Ricky Rubio.

Those are just some of the highlights in the last several years, and there are many more smaller decisions and deals that led to those highlights. Still, they all prove that Altman is not afraid to make big moves.

So far, the Cavs have benefitted greatly from that strategy.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Cavaliers Nation.