Hield’s departure from Indiana comes from a fractured extension negotiation, meaning that any team trading for Hield should consider him either a one-year rental or be prepared to commit long-term salary following the trade.
Realistically, the Cavaliers will open the season with Max Strus in the starting five and Isaac Okoro off the bench. Both players are only 6-foot-5, giving the Cavs an undersized forward rotation next to an undersized starting backcourt duo in Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell. Adding Hield into the mix slots in a 6-foot-4 wing, only stacking onto their current issue. The fit for Hield would not be obvious in Cleveland.
Over his career, Hield has played 59 percent of his time at the shooting guard position. In the Land, Hield would need to spend the majority of his minutes in the backcourt rather than serving as a forward. Theoretically, Buddy Hield as a backup shooting guard is a terrific fit for the Cavaliers; however, trading for Hield to fulfill LeVert’s current role would be a perplexing move when LeVert is not currently available for trade.
There is a reasonable argument that Hield would be more impactful for the Cavaliers than LeVert has been in his role, but LeVert’s trade restriction from his new contract would leave him ineligible for trades until Dec. 15. This would mean the Cavaliers would need to trade away players such as Dean Wade, Isaac Okoro, or Jarrett Allen to bring Hield to Cleveland. This Cavaliers’ depth would disappear at a number of other positions, leading to new problems for the team to solve with more shallow options of trade assets.
Currently, Hield is owed a guaranteed $18.5 million this season with some additional incentives included. For the Cavaliers, acquiring Hield would require one of two pathways currently, considering the trade restrictions on Caris LeVert and other Cavaliers who signed their contracts this summer. Cleveland would either need to trade Jarrett Allen or combine a collection of smaller salaries in order to complete the deal. With a questionable fit on the roster, Hield would not end up the right choice to invest an expensive contract for Cleveland’s future.
Along with that, Hield’s overall playstyle does not make up for his undersized height enough to make him the right solution at the three spot for Cleveland. Even though Hield can maintain his poise on defense, he is a far cry away from the point of attack defender that Okoro has become and lacks the positional versatility on defense that Max Strus can provide. The cost to acquire Buddy Hield would leave the Cavaliers with too little flexibility for future moves this season.
Hield’s lackluster defense and height further confuses his fit on the Cavaliers. He would not provide the team with a skillset that cannot be provided similarly by another player. His shooting is phenomenal, but the Cavaliers would not be able to maximize his value.
Considering Hield’s career 3-point shooting prowess, trading for him would make the Cavs instantly better on the surface, but his salary and other drawbacks make Hield a poor trade target for Cleveland right now.