Since the 2019 Finals, the Toronto Raptors continually fall to a worse season end every year. After losing in the Play-In Tournament in 2023, all eyes have focused on the Raptors’ future as a franchise.
If the Raptors decide to tear things down and begin anew, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby would undoubtedly be the best trade targets for any team, including the Cleveland Cavaliers. Considering Toronto’s unwillingness to trade Anunoby for even Kevin Durant or Siakam for anybody, the required trade package for either player would surely kick Cleveland out of the race early.
Instead, the Cavaliers could target a young athletic forward in Jalen McDaniels who joined the Raptors this summer in free agency. McDaniels has not emerged as a star in any capacity in the NBA, but he continues to carve a spot for himself as a valuable rotation player wherever he goes. With Toronto, McDaniels has gotten off to a slow start, meaning he could be available for a low-cost deal to bring the 6-foot 9-inches forward to the Land. His career 34 percent 3-point shooting and effective rebounding would be a nice boost to a team in constant need of more board chasers.
Following a similar trend as McDaniels, Sam Hauser would fill a role as a reliable bench player for the Cavaliers, similar to what he has done for the Boston Celtics.
Where Hauser exceeds is in volume 3-point shooting and versatile defense. Over his three-season career, Hauser has connected on 42 percent of all long-range attempts, making him an ideal prospect for Cleveland if they keep chasing shooting depth this season. Even with the inclusion of Max Strus and Georges Niang, the Cavaliers are in no position to turn down an elite-level shooter such as Hauser.
On a team-friendly $1.9 million salary this year, acquiring Hauser would revolve more around the draft assets offered than the players sent to Boston.
Breaking the rules of this article, Brooklyn Nets forwards Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith are two perfect prospects for the Cleveland Cavaliers rotation, making them a pair of trade targets.
O’Neale’s history as a teammate in Utah with Donovan Mitchell and as a trade target for Cleveland last season places him as a constant presence in Cavaliers trade rumors and hopes. The 6-foot 6-inches veteran 3-and-D wing would immediately slide into Cleveland’s rotation alongside Max Strus and Isaac Okoro.
As for Dorian Finney-Smith, he may be the first player on this list who is a serious candidate as a starting power forward next to Evan Mobley if the Cavaliers move on from Jarrett Allen. Finney-Smith is a high-impact two-way forward, converting his hard-nosed defense into instant offense whether it comes from pestering the opponent’s ballhandler into a bad pass or from crashing the glass for defensive rebounds and kickstarting a fastbreak.
With Luka Doncic on the Dallas Mavericks, Finney-Smith was the primary defensive anchor and has influenced every team’s culture that he joined. On the Cavaliers, Finney-Smith would provide floor spacing on offense for Evan Mobley as a facilitator with four long-range options surrounding him.
For both players, the issue arises in their age the and championship window for Cleveland. If the Cavaliers look at the Eastern Conference landscape and do not believe themselves to be true contenders, buying players in their thirties will not lead to much of an improvement in the end.
No, trading with the New York Knicks does not immediately mean Donovan Mitchell is involved. Truthfully, any trade between the Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers is unlikely given the recent budding grudge among the squads as both young teams vie to reach the next stage of contention.
If the Cavaliers and Knicks do business, though, bringing Isaiah Hartenstein back to Cleveland as a backup center for his interior defense and rebounding prowess would be a smart move for the Cavaliers come playoff time. Hartenstein out-hustled the Cavaliers’ frontcourt in the postseason, so solving the problem by adding the problem to your own team is a creative yet incredibly unlikely scenario.
Cleveland would probably rather beat Hartenstein at his own game than ask him to fix it for them.
In the offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers eventually signed Kelly Oubre, Jr., a wing player who was rumored for the Cleveland Cavaliers prior to free agency beginning. Rather than targeting him in a trade with Philadelphia, Paul Reed would be a much better choice for the Cavaliers.
Though the Cavaliers have both Damian Jones and Tristan Thompson on the bench as backups for Mobley and Allen, acquiring a proven backup big who can reliably contribute in every aspect of the game for Cleveland would prove invaluable against opponents who out-muscle the Cavaliers’ frontcourt.
Over his four years with the Sixers, Reed has only averaged just under 10 minutes per game, meaning a move to the Cavaliers would give him a bigger role and chance to cement his spot in the Association. In only 11 minutes per contest last season, Reed provided positive defense and grabbed 3.8 rebounds (including 1.6 offensive rebounds). The type of center the Cavaliers need off the bench and in the starting unit in the wake of injuries is perfectly exemplified in Reed’s endless effort.
Moving Southeast, the Cavaliers have a number of intriguing targets, both solid depth players and identity-shifting starters.