3 trade targets at forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers

Otto Porter Jr., Toronto Raptors. Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Otto Porter Jr., Toronto Raptors. Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images /
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After a poor playoff showing, the Cleveland Cavaliers targeted 3-point threat forwards this offseason. Early in free agency, Cleveland agreed on a sign-and-trade for Miami Heat wing Max Strus and a 3-year deal with Georges Niang.

The last few years have shown, though, that teams can never have too many of the coveted wing/forward position at any one time.

Cleveland is coming closer to true contention with their additions and the development of their talented core. Evan Mobley is entering his third year and is expected to fulfill a greater role next season for the Cavs. As Cleveland’s youth continues to improve, finding the best pieces to put around them for any given scenario will be increasingly crucial for playoff success.

With Strus and Isaac Okoro as the primary options at the small forward spot, the Cavs could still improve at the forward spot. Niang can play the three, but his lack of athleticism and overall playstyle makes him only really fit as a power forward. Dean Wade has played small forward before, but he is closer to Niang’s role than Strus or Okoro.

The Cavaliers have two roster spots left, but they are nearing the Luxury Tax threshold. While they are able to sign remaining players in free agency such as Kelly Oubre Jr. or T.J. Warren, negotiating a trade can upgrade their forward depth without sacrificing their financial flexibility.

Who would be the right player for the job in Cleveland? These three players should be last minute trade targets for the Cavs before entering next season.

Otto Porter Jr. would improve Cleveland right away

Joining the Cavaliers would make Otto Porter Jr. the third Porter Jr. on Cleveland’s payroll in the last decade along with Kevin Porter Jr. and Craig Porter Jr. Some day, maybe Michael Porter Jr. will don the wine and gold, too. (Why are there so many Porter Jr.’s in the NBA?)

Other than his namesake, Otto Porter Jr. has been an established role player forward in the NBA since the 2013 Draft. The veteran forward has shot 39.7 percent from the three over his career and has averaged 10.5 points and 5 rebounds per game. He also played a valuable role in the Golden State Warriors’ 2022 NBA Championship.

While Porter could have entered unrestricted free agency this summer, he picked up his $6.3 million player option for the 2023-24 season. As an expiring cheap contract, Otto Porter Jr. would be an ideal trade target to fill out Cleveland’s bench.

The Cavaliers are probably hoping that Emoni Bates will become a role player forward in the next year or two, so bringing in a veteran with NBA Finals experience on a one-year deal gives Cleveland leadership and talent now without surrendering their future options.

Short term, Porter helps the Cavaliers as long as he is healthy. Last season, the champion underwent a season-ending surgery for a foot injury that occurred in late 2022. In the past, Porter has had his fair share of injuries and missed games, but his recent surgery appears to be the most serious one yet. Though this may worry the Cavs, his skillset is exactly what Cleveland needs. When he’s healthy, he can be a great backup option. When hurt, the Cavs have the firepower to maintain.

Additionally, Cleveland’s current small forward depth is undersized. Strus and Okoro both at 6-foot-5 are susceptible to being overpowered by taller forwards. Porter is 6-foot-8 and has a stocky build. While his defensive prowess is subpar compared to Okoro, he would still help the Cavaliers against tall rivals.

There is very little harm or risk in trading for Porter, so long as the Cavaliers do not overpay unnecessarily. He will not be expected to play heavy minutes and reaggravate his injuries, and he will be playing with star level talent he can depend on.

The next forward has been linked to Cleveland since last season, and it might only be a matter of time before it happens.