The Cavs need to bring Royce O’Neale to the Land already
When the Cavaliers fell out of the Playoffs, their poor shooting and lackluster intensity were obvious flaws that caused their crumbling performance.
In response, Cleveland fans searched for the right trade option or free agent. For some time it seemed impossible to hear any name more than that of Brooklyn’s Royce O’Neale.
Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor reported that an O’Neale trade had almost been completed at last season’s trade deadline before the Nets chose to retain the veteran forward. As the offseason began, O’Neale seemed like an inevitable trade. It was only a matter of time.
After the Cavs added Max Strus, O’Neale rumors have gone silent. But, adding Strus only makes O’Neale a more appealing target.
The Cavaliers’ current wing depth is Isaac Okoro, Max Strus, and a mix of Caris LeVert and Dean Wade. Last season, three of those four competed in a season-long campaign to secure the starting 3 spot. In the end, Okoro won due to his defense, but his offense never came around.
Strus is likely to be the starting small forward on opening night, but the backup wing minutes will become the Cavaliers’ newest big weakness. LeVert has played best for Cleveland in a guard role, helping facilitate the offense. Wade is best suited as a power forward rather than a small forward, and Isaac Okoro’s 3-point shooting is not consistent enough to rely on.
Royce O’Neale changes that. A lot.
Getting O’Neale would probably cost the Cavs one of either Okoro or Wade alongside Ricky Rubio’s salary and some second-round draft picks. That would seemingly make Cleveland’s depth chart weaker, then? Honestly, no.
O’Neale shot 38.9 percent from 3-point range last season, grabbed 5.1 rebounds, and got 3.7 assists per game. He has a versatile, well-rounded game. He would instantly improve the Cavaliers, and his 6-foot-6-inch stature answers Cleveland’s need for a taller wing player.
Additionally, Royce O’Neale fits the bill of another key factor in some of Cleveland’s moves this summer – he is a former teammate of Donovan Mitchell. Georges Niang was another member of the Mitchell-led Utah Jazz, and Ty Jerome played with Mitchell in an AAU league as children.
In Utah, O’Neale was one of Mitchell’s most consistent teammates, and they seemed to build a healthy chemistry with one another. Acquiring O’Neale not only drastically improves the Cavaliers on the court, but it is another indicator to Donovan Mitchell that the Cavs can and will build around him. Making Cleveland Mitchell’s best long-term choice is undeniably a top priority. O’Neale would improve their chances.
Should the Cavaliers target O’Neale? Certainly. Is he worth the price tag? Absolutely.
Will Cleveland do it? Only time will tell. It is no secret that the front office sees the value in O’Neale, but they have yet to find the right deal to bring him in. If they can negotiate the right offer with Brooklyn, then he would be an ideal acquisition to end the offseason.