Should the Cavaliers consider this trade?
The reason they would do this trade is simple: it’s really hard to win at the highest levels in the NBA with two small guards. By trading Darius Garland for Jaylen Brown, the Cavaliers would swap out Garland’s passing and playmaking for Brown’s size and defense. Both are excellent scorers, both are firmly in their prime.
Does that mean the Cavs should make this deal? No, probably not. For as good as Jaylen Brown is, he’s been somewhat overrated over the past few seasons, just as he is currently being underrated after a bad postseason series. Brown made Second Team All-NBA this past season but wasn’t one of the best 25 players in the league.
Garland, who didn’t make the All-Star Team this past season, probably was one of the best 25 players in the league, or at least right on the line. His combination of scoring, shooting and passing is special, and the presence of another lead ball-handler on his team shouldn’t tarnish that. Garland is younger, with more room to grow, and is an integral part of the Cavs’ culture and leadership structure.
He’s also under contract for the next four seasons, while Brown is a pending free agent. Trading for Brown would put a lot of pressure on the Cavaliers to perform this next season. Some of that pressure will be there anyway, but this core doesn’t need to have an exit door yet. They still have work to do.
The theory makes sense, but it’s the wrong move for the Cavaliers. Garland is a better player right now, likely has a higher ceiling, and he deserves the chance to see this through.