No. 2: Cleveland should give extended playing time to Craig Porter, Jr. and Emoni Bates
While the Cavaliers will certainly explore the trade market for players that can help them stay afloat with these injuries, they may already have their best possible answers under contract.
Emerging as a steal in the 2023 draft, Craig Porter, Jr. joined Cleveland on a two-way deal with the Charge and Cavaliers as an 23-year-old undrafted prospect out of Wichita State. In the Summer League, Porter's confident scoring and intelligent playstyle helped lift the Cavs to a franchise first Summer League Championship. In the regular season, he has shown an ability to produce instantaneously whenever called upon.
Against the Denver Nuggets, Porter set his career high at 21 points with 4 assists, 4 rebounds and impressive defense as well in a shocking 121-109 upset victory on the road. Bickerstaff believes Porter has earned a spot in the rotation, but he has not played in more than half the Cavs' games since these comments. With Garland's absence, Porter should have the chance to earn a fully guaranteed contract and join the main roster.
As for Emoni Bates, he has sparsely played for the Cavs, often only appearing in garbage time and standing in the corner, rarely touching the ball. In the G-League, however, Bates is one of the leading scorers in the league with 24.3 points per game, including an impressive 42.7 percent from deep on 9.9 attempts per game. His overall game has improved with the Charge, as Bates has averaged 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks and 5 rebounds per game in his rookie campaign.
Even though the Cavs added shooting in the offseason, they still sit in the bottom half of NBA teams in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage. Bates' proven shooting talent, 6-foot 10-inches build and continued improvement all prove he could have a bright future in Cleveland if given the chance.
Cleveland's third two-way player is Evan Mobley's older brother, Isaiah Mobley. Isaiah Mobley is a 6-foot 9-inches big man with relatively good shooting range and solid defense. Although he is less likely than his counterparts to earn a full roster spot, the older Mobley brother could certainly gain some more minutes as a late rotation piece until his brother returns.
Bringing both Bates and Porter to the main roster is not currently possible, as the Cavs only have one remaining open roster spot and are nearing the luxury tax threshold. If Cleveland wants to give them bigger roles, they would need to look another direction with some current players and consolidate talent for the present and near future.