Grade the Trade: Cavaliers dump worst salary in cost-saving idea

Koby Altman, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Koby Altman, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers, Max Strus
Cleveland Cavaliers, Max Strus. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Do the Cavaliers accept this trade?

The best version of Max Strus is probably something close to what he was in the Eastern Conference Playoffs this past season, bombing away from deep and forcing opposing defenses to closely defend him, opening up space inside for his All-Star teammates. Cleveland is hoping he can hold up defensively and hit a high enough percentage to keep defenses honest.

The downside risk is clearly there, however. Strus did get hot at times in the playoffs, but he only shot 31.9 percent overall from deep during last season’s run. His shooting percentages over the last three regular seasons? 33.8 percent, then up to 41 percent, then back down to 35 percent a year ago.

Dorian Finney-Smith is clearly a better defensive player than Strus, with the size and length at 6’7″ to defend wings and forwards. He has been deployed on all manner of opposing scorers during his time with the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets.

What’s interesting is that Finney-Smith is also a decent shooter. For his career, he has hit 35.7 percent from beyond the arc. That’s essentially what Strus hit last year. If Max runs cold again next season, the Cavs could move him for DFS and get a much better defender and similar shooter.

Percentages only tell part of the story for Strus, however, as his off-ball movement and willingness to shoot threaten defenses in a way that Finney-Smith’s spot-up shooting does not. On the other hand, the Cavs don’t need a movement shooter at the 2; they need one at the 3, and Strus may not be able to fill that need defensively. If he’s not shooting lights out, the value proposition begins to shift back to a larger player like Finney-Smith.

The Cavaliers need a player like Max Strus; it’s just not clear if Max Strus is that player for this Cavs roster. Finney-Smith isn’t, either, but perhaps the right move is to trade Strus for size on defense and use another asset to get a shooter. Cleveland really just needs Strus to work out, but if he turns out to be a bad contract, this is a good move to get off of his salary.

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Grade: B+