Trade No 1: Evan Mobley to the Thunder
The night of the NBA Draft each season, teams will make trades that are effectively swapping one prospect for another. When the Oklahoma City Thunder traded up two spots in last June's NBA Draft, they were saying that they thought Cason Wallace would be a better prospect than Dereck Lively II. The Dallas Mavericks made another draft-day trade back in 2018 when they bet that Luka Doncic was a better prospect than Trae Young and made the trade up to get their guy.
After the draft is over, however, prospect-for-prospect trades rarely happen, and they certainly don't happen between young players who are on a star trajectory. Yet if the Cavs are going to trade Evan Mobley they need to get back an extremely talented player, and moving Mobley for another prospect on a rookie contract allows the Cavs to keep the rest of their rotation.
Looking around the league, there is one team that may be able to justify turning a star on the wing into a defensive star in the paint, and it's the Oklahoma City Thunder. Here is what a trade could look like:
For the Thunder, they would be pairing Evan Mobley and Chet Holmgren in the frontcourt, a defensive pairing that means the Thunder could play whoever else they wanted to on the perimeter. Mobley and Holmgren would be thin, but in every other way their defensive versatility and elite rim protection would absolutely blank opponents. The Thunder would still have plenty of perimeter players to plug into the wing rotation.
For the Cavaliers they get a sophomore in Jalen Williams who is one of the league's toughest scorers, using his body as a battering ram to shrug off contact and score inside at an elite rate. He's also shooting a scorching 46.6 percent from 3-point range, averaging 18.8 points per game and is the second scoring option on one of the best teams in the league.
Jalen would be a starter at the 3 for the Cavaliers and give them a balanced scoring option with their talented backcourt. Jaylin Williams will keep the name confusion going as he comes along to give the Cavs depth behind Jarrett Allen. Would this balancing of the starting lineup be worth moving on from Mobley?