As the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaches, one name has repeatedly appeared as a serious target for the Cleveland Cavaliers - Atlanta Hawks De'Andre Hunter.
The Hawks have found themselves in a rut this season, hardly grasping to a Play-In spot as the tenth seed in the Eastern Conference at a 18-24 record after a horrendous blowout 116-95 loss to the Cavaliers in their own homecourt. With a disappointing regular season campaign, Atlanta has emerged as a likely seller at the deadline with Dejounte Murray as a prime trade target for multiple aspiring contenders.
For Cleveland, Murray is far from a realstic prospect. Atlanta's wealth of talented young wings and forwards, however, has seemingly piqued plenty of interest. Earlier this month, the Cavs' interest in Hunter was confirmed by multiple sources, and the buzz around Hunter has not died down since. Standing at 6-foot 8-inches with a 40.1 percent three-point shot this season, Hunter in essence is a perfect candidate for the wine and gold.
Recently, The Athletic published their NBA Trade Board, listing top trade prospects and their ideal fits for a new home. While the Cavaliers were named as an ideal landing spot for a handful of players, they were the first name listed for Hunter. While Hunter has never reached the potential of a perennial All-Star or All-NBA forward that attracted the Hawks to select him fourth overall in 2019 - one spot ahead of Darius Garland - Hunter has carved a solid spot in the NBA as a winning player on the wing.
What would De'Andre Hunter bring to the Cavaliers?
The Cavaliers do not have much to offer in terms of draft compensation. All of their available first-rounds picks were already sent over to the Utah Jazz for Donovan Mitchell in 2022. The Athletic's trade board suggested Hunter's value would either be a late first-rounder or multiple second-round picks and a good prospect. This is where the Cavs come in.
Owed $20 million this season, matching Hunter's salary is not by any means an impossible task, but it would require parting ways with somebody in the current rotation. If the Cavs want to quickly reach Hunter's price tag, sixth man Caris LeVert or Max Strus would be the first choices with salaries around the $15 million mark each. As two of Cleveland's six best players, the cost would be too steep.
If the Cavaliers can bring Hunter into the lineup without surrendering LeVert or Strus, though, he could quickly prove to be a highly-valuable asset to a Cleveland roster with eyes on the playoffs.