5 last minute trade targets for Cleveland Cavaliers before training camp

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls and Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports)
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls and Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports) /
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After a disappointing playoff exit, the Cleveland Cavaliers spent this offseason retooling their bench lineup and building around their core. Their 3-point shooting was a glaring shortcoming and was swiftly answered by acquiring Max Strus and Georges Niang.

Entering the 2023-24 season, the Cavaliers will look similar, having kept their core players. Their depth and offensive versatility will be much improved, though, if implemented correctly by head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

Cleveland’s every possible weakness is not just solved, however. Both Max Strus and Isaac Okoro stand at only 6-foot-5, making them shorter than the majority of small forwards in the Association. Additionally, both players answer one question for the Cavs while creating another. Okoro’s defense can create extra scoring opportunities for Cleveland, but his imperfect shooting leads to failed conversions of those chances. Strus can knock down those shots, but his defense does not create them as often.

In their frontcourt, the Cavs will rely on Niang and Dean Wade to backup Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Wade’s overall inconsistency has hurt the obvious value he can provide, and Niang’s lack of speed and athleticism hurts his defense and rebounding efforts.

Before the NBA season begins, the Cavaliers would be smart to consolidate some of their growing depth to bring in more reliable, complete role players.

There is a seemingly endless surplus of talent in the NBA, and as an emerging contender, the Cavaliers could be a perfect situation for many of the league’s best role players. With their current construction and remaining assets in mind, these five players would be the best trade targets for Cleveland before training camp begins.

Last minute trade target No. 1 – Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls

The Cleveland Cavaliers have built their success through a defense-first identity under head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. With Mobley and Allen in the paint, Cleveland earned the league’s best defense in the regular season. Additionally, Donovan Mitchell recorded one of his best defensive seasons since joining the NBA, snagging 1.5 steals per game with a 111 defensive rating in his first year with the Cavs.

In the wake of Ricky Rubio stepping away from basketball for the time being, it would benefit the Cavaliers to find another defensive-minded guard to lead the second unit backcourt. Since his 2020 NBA Finals performance with the Lakers, Alex Caruso has become a poster child for NBA backcourt defense, and rightfully so.

Caruso left Los Angeles for the midwestern Chicago Bulls and impacted their struggling defense alongside Lonzo Ball.

At 29 years old, though, Caruso is in the midst of his prime years, and the Bulls are far from competing in the highest ranks of NBA action. The lack of direction in Chicago and Caruso’s perfect fit in Cleveland makes him an ideal last minute trade option to bolster the Cavaliers bench.

While Caruso’s defense is his biggest claim to fame, he is no slouch on offense, either. He averaged 5.6 points and 2.9 assists in only 23.5 minutes per game last season and shot 36.4 percent from 3-point range on 2.3 attempts. Caruso may not be headed to the All-Star Game for his offense, but the Cavaliers do not need that from him. He can contribute consistently on both ends of the court, giving the Cavs time to rest their stars in difficult games.

That said, Cleveland’s biggest needs are still on the wing and frontcourt. This next target could improve their forward presence immediately.