The Cleveland Cavaliers had a really great offseason, all things considered. Yes, they didn’t make any moves similar to the Donovan Mitchell trade they made last offseason, but with the team that they already had coming into this offseason, they added exactly what they needed to be able to be more successful next season. Their transactions will really build upon what is already there, as well as being able to get better next season.
The biggest fish that the Cavaliers were able to land was Miami Heat wing Max Strus. The Cavaliers sent out Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens, and a second-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs, as well as sending out a second-round pick to Miami, and they were able to get Strus on a four-year, $62.3 million deal.
The Cavaliers ranked 12th overall in 3-point percentage last year at 36.7 percent overall as a team, which is fine, but considering the standard Cleveland holds themselves to, they probably want that percentage and ranking to be better. The Cavs also ranked 24th overall in 3-pointers attempted per game, but with Strus and Georges Niang added to the mix of players in Cleveland, that ranking should be higher.
Cedi Osman specifically was one of the better role pieces for the Cavaliers for years, as he played in Cleveland for six seasons. Osman had the third highest plus-minus for a bench player last season, as only the New York Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Isaiah Joe had a higher total plus-minus off the bench in the regular season. It might have been a wrong move to get rid of him, but only time will tell.
As for Lamar Stevens, he was a great hustle guy for the Cavs. He wasn’t really a scorer or shooter, but his defensive tenacity was amazing on the court, and his mentality was really infectious. He was the original mold for the “Junkyard Dog” chain for the Cavs, and was one of the reasons that the Cavs were one of the best defensive teams last season. He really helped the Cavs’ culture in his three years for Cleveland.
The two second-round picks are the 2026 second-rounder via the Los Angeles Lakers, and the other one was the 2030 second-rounder that the Cavaliers owned themselves. Second-round picks aren’t necessarily super valuable, and those picks might not ever amount to anything.
Overall, the Cavs traded in Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens, and two second-round picks for four seasons of Max Strus. Defensively, Strus is not a spectacular perimeter defender, and isn’t an athletic specimen. Even so, his shooting ability, as well as off-ball movement really separates him apart from other players.
Strus’ skill set should help the Cavs, but will they end up regretting signing him to that kind of deal? It’s a worthy question.
There is debate whether Strus or Caris LeVert should be the starting small forward next season. Chances are, whichever player is not selected to be the starter will most likely be the sixth man. Both are relatively similar in skill level, but on Cleveland, will have different roles.
Looking at the contract, $62.3 million is a lot for a player such as Strus. Yes, he’s really talented, but it still is a considerable amount on money, nonetheless. He is undersized at small forward, only being 6’5″.
The Cavs’ perimeter defense could struggle next season if he starts at small forward. He’s not a lockdown defender, and Darius Garland isn’t a great defender, either. Donovan Mitchell was solid on defense last year, but definitely isn’t getting any votes for an All-Defense team anytime soon.
Also, Strus shot 35.0 percent from distance last year, and is only a career 37.1 percent 3-point shooter. He had one season where he shot 41.0 percent back in the 2021-22 season, which is great, but needs to be replicated if he wants to be a more vital part of the Cavs’ offense next season, and for the rest of his contract.
All in all, Max Strus is a high quality player, but $62.3 million is a lot of money. Considering the Cavs’ roster, Strus has a lot of opportunity for a lot of playing time next season. He will be a top-notch shooting option on the perimeter next season, and should have the best year of his career.
Whether Strus’ deal will turn out to be a good signing or not will be found out eventually, but as of now, we have to wait to see what Strus will look like playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.