Grade the Trade: Cavaliers add Max Strus, lose two wings

Max Strus, Miami Heat and Ricky Rubio, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Max Strus, Miami Heat and Ricky Rubio, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Max Strus, Miami Heat. Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images /

Grading the signing of Max Strus

Max Strus is signing with the Cavaliers on a four-year, $63 million deal that will pay him an average of $15.75 million per season. Strus, now 27 years old, will turn 31 a few weeks before this contract ends, giving the Cavs the heart of his prime.

Strus was an undrafted free agent who bounced around the league his first year before landing in Miami for the 2020-21 season. He became a full-time rotation player in 2021-22, eventually supplanting Duncan Robinson in the starting lineup. He has started all 41 of the Miami Heat’s playoff games over the past two seasons.

He presumably steps into the starting small forward spot for the Cavs. He’s a bit undersized for that role at 6’5″, but his strength has allowed him to fill that role for the Heat plenty over the last two seasons, switching between the 2 and 3. With Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen behind him you can survive a smaller player at the 3, and his strength could allow him to cross-match if the Cavs need to deploy Mobley on combo forwards like Jimmy Butler.

Strus is being signed because he is a good defender who can shoot the basketball, a combination severely lacking on the Cavs this past season. He is a 37.1 percent 3-point shooter for his career, not exactly a premier number, but it’s the volume that is the best indicator of his shooting prowess: 7.0 attempts per game last season, and 9.5 attempts per 36 minutes for his career.

He doesn’t stop shooting in the playoffs, either, and famously has had multiple games where he catches fire and gets up double-digit attempts. He only had 1.4 wide-open 3-point attempts in the playoffs this past season, because opposing defenses are terrified to leave him open. That, more so even than his accuracy, is what will help the Cleveland offense the most.

$15.75 million per season is less than other “shooting” wings have received in recent seasons, be that his old teammate Duncan Robinson or players like Tim Hardaway Jr. (who has more on-ball scoring pop) or Joe Harris. Given their other options, it’s a fine number for Strus.

Grade: A-