Grade the Trade: Cavaliers swap point guard for wing in latest pitch

Ricky Rubio and Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Ricky Rubio and Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /
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The Cleveland Cavaliers spent a lot of money this summer on shooting. That approach makes sense, as this roster struggled to field capable shooting outside of their star-studded backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. They had the league’s best defense, but it came largely because they played non-shooters like Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro big minutes.

In the playoffs, the New York Knicks took advantage of that lack of spacing, packing the paint and helping aggressively on Mitchell and Garland. The result was a lot of missed shots and a give-game exit. That made Mission No. 1 this summer acquiring shooting; mission accomplished.

The Cavaliers may have swapped defense for shooting

The downside of the players the Cavaliers added is that none of them are good defenders. Max Strus is fine on that end and competes, as does Ty Jerome, but neither is any sort of a stopper. Gerges Niang executes the scheme but is going to be exposed frequently. It begs the question: did the Cavs swap out one problem (shooting) only to create another (perimeter defense)?

Having players good at one or the other helps them build different lineups, so it’s better to have the shooting than not to have it. But what the Cavaliers truly need is a player who can both shoot and play competent defense. Those players are hard to find, as most teams want to keep the ones that they have.

The Brooklyn Nets are a rare team with an excess of wings, and they might be a team to target in a trade. Let’s look at a recently proposed deal that could add that two-way player the Cavaliers so desperately need.