The Cleveland Cavaliers enter the final days before the NBA trade deadline with a fighting chance at the second seed in the Eastern Conference, making the potential impact of a good trade exponentially high.
As the Cavaliers jostle for postseason position with the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, any significant shift can vault Cleveland ahead of the competition for the illustrious opportunity to face a Play-In team during the first round of the playoffs. After falling to the Knicks in the first round last year in a 4-5 matchup, the Cavs are one more good stretch away from a major advantage this year.
With a 17-4 record in their last 21 games, the Cavaliers have endured numerous setbacks and come out on top. Regardless of their trade deadline choices, they are looking significantly better than a season prior, but the improvements of their counterparts may make Cleveland's growth less impactful in the playoffs.
The Knicks, Bucks and 76ers have all finalized major trades since the offseason, but the Cavaliers' injury-ridden season has given them minimal chance to realize areas for necessary change. With the team finally healthy just before the trade deadline, the Cavs might opt to stay silent and wait for the buyout market for additional help. Still, Cleveland can solidify themselves as a top Eastern Conference contender with a smart move, especially if they can avoid giving up a real rotational player.
When trade season opened, the Cavs had a widely reported interest in 3-and-D wings, including both Royce O'Neale and De'Andre Hunter. Both players have garnered wide intrigue across the NBA, leaving the Cavaliers in a bidding war that they have little chance to win.
If Cleveland is determined to add another veteran forward before the February 8 trade buzzer sounds, these three players should pique their interest as underrated targets that could come at a low cost.