Do the Cavs say yes?
Cleveland’s interest in this trade depends on two main factors: Are they confident they can replace Jarrett Allen in free agency and can they re-sign both Finney-Smith and O’Neale on team-friendly extensions?
One of the many praises for Cleveland’s Koby Altman in the Donovan Mitchell trade was the fact none of the Cavs core was sent to Utah. Though the players lost were talented pieces in the rebuild, there was no serious change to the squad.
For Cleveland to approve this trade, their current perspective on the true core for the future would have to have changed drastically. The Cavaliers would need to be sure that they do not believe Jarrett Allen is replaceable quickly. As it stands, Evan Mobley and Dean Wade are the only two other “true” bigs on Cleveland’s roster, though Dean Wade might not really be considered a big by many onlookers.
There’s no reason for Cleveland entirely to ignore this offer, though. It would certainly answer the looming questions at the wing spot while retaining Isaac Okoro, Ricky Rubio, and Dean Wade for the rotation or later potential trades.
Finney-Smith and O’Neale are the perfect archetypes for Cleveland’s small forward rotation. In the initial article, team reports from The Athletic weighed in from each team’s perspective, and Kelsey Russo, who covers the Cavs, did mention how adding O’Neale and Finney-Smith would help shooting. In the same light, Russo would touch on how both can defend as well, which is central to what Cleveland is about.
Directly following, however, Russo acknowledged how this would impact Cleveland’s center position. With the Mid-Level Exception, the Cavaliers would still have the ability to sign a center to the team, but Russo mentions “the options available are not really much of an upgrade.” Another trade could be made to bring in a big, but this trade in itself significantly shifts Cleveland’s roster.
At the end of the day, it is overall doubtful Cleveland would make this trade right now. They have already stated they intend to start the next season with Jarrett Allen on the books. It also simply answers one question while opening up another. Perhaps Altman already has plans in motion to replace Allen before training camp ends and the season opener arrives, but the uncertainty in this deal alone cannot be ignored.
Additionally, three-team deals are treacherous territory. Brooklyn benefits the most, and in every trade one team will probably get more out of the transaction. So, it’s not bad that the Cavaliers and Mavericks are not in the perfect spot after the deal.
To conclude, this trade is a starting point. A good starting point, but this could neither be the final deal nor the only trade made by any squad involved.