The Cleveland Cavaliers have needed wing shooting since the beginning of last season when it became clear that Isaac Okoro still had not taken that next step. Conveniently enough, Buddy Hield and the Indiana Pacers are working together to find a trade partner (subscription required), per a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. The problem is, nothing is ever that simple.
Hield is exactly the sharpshooter the Cavs so desperately missed in their series against the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs last season. He has a legitimate case for being one of the greatest three-point shooters in NBA history.
The biggest problem surrounding Hield is the fact that beyond his elite three-point shooting, he does almost nothing at an above average level. This wouldn’t be a problem if the exception was defense, but he is an oddly inconsistent defensive presence.
In his time in the NBA playing for both the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers, he has never made the playoffs. Hield’s ability to raise the ceiling for a team is questionable as we don’t know how he’ll adjust to the increased demands of the postseason, and we don’t know if he has really helped either of his teams get closer to making it out of the lottery.
The Cavaliers have consistently put emphasis on the defensive end of the floor and it’s hard to see Hield fitting into that vision as a six-foot-four player being moved to the small forward position.
While Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen could do wonders to cover up that weakness, the Cavs would then be starting three subpar defenders and putting a heavy burden on their frontcourt.
Buddy Hield is set to make $18.6 million next season; this would make him one of the highest paid players on the already thinly spread Cleveland Cavaliers roster.
It would be nearly impossible to get a trade done without the Cavs needing to sacrifice Jarrett Allen or the newfound depth at the wing positions. Both of these would be essential for the Hield fit to work.
Without Jarrett Allen, the defense would be spread far too thin for Evan Mobley to handle on his own. While he is one of if not the best defensive players in the NBA, he can’t control every inch of the basketball court.
If they decide to butcher their wing depth instead, they would be forced to play Hield next to Donovan Mitchell for long stretches of the game, creating nasty defensive issues in the process.
Neither of these are good options and either way, the strong defense and depth that have defined the resurrection of the Cavaliers would be sacrificed for a player who can’t offer much outside of a lethal three-point shot.
It would be a mistake for the Cavs to give up on the two aspects that have characterized their recent success.
This means that trading for Buddy Hield should be near the bottom of the priority list as it would only hurt their championship aspirations.