Grade the Trade: Cavaliers join three-team pitch to add former champion

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee Bucks. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee Bucks. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images /

Would the Cavaliers make this trade?

There is a potential pitfall that NBA teams are prone to when evaluating their own teams; it’s called the “Sunk-Cost Fallacy.” Essentially, when a team invests resources in a player, they are less likely to think critically about that player and are biased by the cost of acquiring them.

It’s very possible that the Cavaliers will struggle with that when evaluating Isaac Okoro. They spent a top-5 pick on Okoro in 2020 and gave him 174 starts over the past three seasons, and given his defensive play there has to be hope that the investment will finally pay off as he takes a step forward offensively.

The reality, however, is that the Cavs would not have signed Okoro in free agency this summer, nor traded an asset to add him. He is too much of an offensive liability and the path forward is still too uncertain. The Cavaliers need two-way players who can survive in the playoffs; it’s a low-probability chance that Okoro becomes that. If Cleveland hadn’t been the ones to draft him, they probably would have already made that call.

This trade would turn Okoro into a wing who has proven he can play and thrive in the playoffs. He played in all 23 playoff games in 2021, averaging 23.7 minutes per game en route to a Bucks championship. He is a career 37.6 percent 3-point shooter in the playoffs, is a good rebounder and a solid defender. He’s exactly the kind of player the Cavs need.

Connaughton is 30 years old, no longer a spring chicken but still in the midst of his prime. There is a very real chance he could close games for the Cavaliers in the playoffs this season, and to add such a piece for a young player who may or may not be able to contribute in the postseason is a good step for a Cleveland squad that is ready to contend now.

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Grade: B+