Grade the Trade: Balky knee causes blockbuster Cavaliers pitch

Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Dorian Finney-Smith, Brooklyn Nets and Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images /

Would the Cavaliers make this trade?

If the Cavaliers are going to move forward with Evan Mobley at center, they need to have solid defenders at other positions. One of the reasons that Cleveland had the best defense in the league last season despite two below-average defenders in the backcourt was the pairing of Allen and Mobley; taking away Allen and adding another defensive liability is not a recipe for success.

The Cavs have a few of those players on the roster, as Max Strus is a decent defender and both Isaac Okoro and Dean Wade are great ones. Things start to thin out from there, however, whether it’s a large role for Georges Niang or needing to play another big alongside Mobley. That’s why the construction of this deal might just work.

Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale are both proven NBA defenders, with a track record of defending high-octane perimeter players in playoff environments. Neither is a spring chicken anymore (both are 30 years old) but both are solid veterans who can step in and play a role immediately. O’Neale has 44 playoff appearances to his name; Finney-Smith has 35.

Two-way wings mark the largest weakness on the team at this point, and this deal would bring in a pair. Is it feasible for the Cavaliers to try and target more of a star in an Allen deal? Perhaps, but “stars” at the 3 and 4 are more expensive than one at center, so they would need to add assets — ones they probably don’t have — to pull off such a deal, be that for someone like Jerami Grant or Pascal Siakam.

Mobley is a rising star, and along with Garland and Mitchell gives this team a lot of shot creation. Max Strus, Georges Niang and Dean Wade provide a lot of shooting. Caris LeVert is the redundancy built in for when Garland or Mitchell miss time. Is it more valuable to the Cavaliers to have a center like Allen to pair with and back up Mobley? Or is it more valuable to turn Allen into two players who can play multiple positions and unlock lineup versatility?

It’s a fair question, and Allen is a valuable player to the Cavaliers. This kind of trade, taking advantage of the Grizzlies’ desperation, could be the right kind of move to unlock the best versions of a two-way playoff rotation. It’s worth strongly considering.

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Grade: B+