Darius Garland is not a great defender. Donovan Mitchell is long and athletic but has never put those things together to be a consistent stopper on the wing; Paul George he is not. Ty Jerome plays hard but isn’t a lockdown guy. Ricky Rubio, if he returns to the Cavaliers this season, is past the part of his career where he was locking up opposing guards. Max Strus is fine defensively.
Isaac Okoro fills a very real need on this team, and trading him for a player who falls more in the Strus / Mitchell category of defender (average with some flashes) means the Cavs don’t have a guy they can put into the game to lock up an opposing guard who is on fire. Okoro was that guy. Even if his role is marginalized due to his offensive shortcomings, losing that arrow from the quiver will hurt the Cavaliers’ defensive versatility.
The hope here is that the offensive benefits outweigh the defensive loss. Burks is a dynamic scorer both on-and-off the ball, and last season he made the offense sing for the Pistons despite their poor spacing and inconsistent youngsters. The Pistons actually had a positive point differential when he was on the court, and they finished with the worst record in the league.
The key area where Burks can help is as a shooter; he shot 41.4 percent from deep last season, his third-straight season hitting over 40 percent, and he got up 7.7 3-pointers per 36 minutes. Adding Burks and Strus to their wing rotation would turn a weakness into a true strength.
Ultimately, however, Burks is 32 years old and heading into the final year of his contract, and the Cavs don’t have many bullets left to spend. Burks is a better shooter than Caris LeVert but isn’t altogether that different of a player, and their need for a 3-and-D forward with size should get the lion’s share of their remaining second-round picks. It’s hard to justify adding another similar player; if they could simultaneously move Caris LeVert for that larger two-way forward, suddenly a move for Burks makes more sense.
This deal is fine, and it seems fair, but the Cavaliers have to be judicious with their resources. This is probably too much of a luxury for them to pull the trigger.