Grade the Trade: Cavaliers go 2-for-1 in brilliant proposal

Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers and Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images
Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers and Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Grayson Allen, Milwaukee Bucks and Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images /

Why the Cavaliers would make this deal

The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t facing a roster crunch but rather a positional crunch; they have a team stocked with shooting guards and power forwards without a true small forward on the roster, but they also have an open roster spot and only 13 guaranteed contracts, so turning one player into two can absolutely work.

Nassir Little is much more of a natural small forward, a player who has slowly developed since coming out of North Carolina four years ago and is on a bargain deal for the next four years. He shot a career-best 36.7 percent from 3-point range last season and is a competent defender; he wouldn’t be an immediate rotation player, but he could easily play his way into it by the end of the season.

Grayson Allen would be more of a lock for the rotation, an improved defender and a knockdown movement shooter. Whether the Cavaliers would deploy lineups with both Max Strus and Allen or stagger them for 48 minutes of movement shooting, the boost to the Cavaliers’ offense and the spacing for the rest of the team would be significant.

Losing LeVert’s on-ball playmaking and shot creation eliminates some of the Cavs’ safety net should Darius Garland or Donovan Mitchell miss time. At the same time, having extra playmaking is a skill with diminishing returns as you stack it; shooting only increases exponentially as you stack it up. LeVert is by all appearances an excellent teammate and has done everything the team has asked, but he has never been a seamless fit for this team.

This trade would push the Cavs into the luxury tax, giving them sparse room below the first tax apron (which they cannot pass for any reason this year as they are “hard-capped” after pulling off a sign-and-trade for Strus) and making the team more expensive. Assuming that Dan Gilbert is prepared to sign off on that, this deal would give the Cavaliers increased depth, improved shooting and more pieces to move in future trades. A second-round pick thrown in for good measure makes it all the better.

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Grade: B+