Bleacher Report grades Cleveland Cavaliers' offseason moves in retrospect

Looking back on offseason and mid-season moves, Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey handed the Cleveland Cavaliers a solid grade as they approach the playoffs.
Max Strus, Cleveland Cavaliers
Max Strus, Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Coming into the 2023-24 season, it was apparent the Cleveland Cavaliers sought out shooting help to put around the likes of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley.

To improve their shooting/spacing, it wasn't surprising when Cleveland brought in Max Strus via sign-and-trade from the Miami Heat. Strus was hot off a tremendous season as a solid 3-and-D glue guy for the conference championship Heat. The undrafted veteran solidified his spot in the Association, and the Cavaliers brought him in to fill out their starting five. Cleveland would sign Georges Niang in free agency as well, who was another player added to bolster their efforts from the outside, and like Strus, he was a long-rumored Cavs target.

Looking at the moves Cleveland made for 2023-24, they didn't have the splash signings or blockbuster trade acquisitions like the offseason/year prior, but they did make efforts to improve their depth and role pieces around their stars. Now that they had their star captain in Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland shifted their focus to adding complementary role players to the roster. Improving on the margins was something the Cavaliers had to do, and while there have been ups and downs for Cleveland in the regular season, this is an undoubtedly deeper group.

Regarding the transaction front from leading into the season and/or during it, though the Cavs didn't make any big swings this go-around, they knew that to get better/more capable from the outside.

In a recent piece, Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report retrospectively graded every team's offseason moves and midseason decisions. The Cavaliers spent their efforts in the offseason, hardly making any changes throughout the actual season. Aside from signing Marcus Morris, Sr. and converting standout rookie Craig Porter, Jr. to a standard contract, Cleveland remained steady over the course of the regular season.

With everything taken into account, Baiely gave the Cavaliers a "B" grade for their moves this season and noted even with their quiet approach, they addressed "one glaring need this past offseason."

Bailey would also state that Strus had a "below-average three-point percentage for the third time in four years, but he provided an unexpected playmaking boost," and how Strus has essentially played quality defense. He did not touch on the rest of Cleveland's few moves, focusing primarily on Strus' impact and quality fit with the Cavaliers.

Cleveland Cavaliers will take a B for a passing grade

As Bailey noted, Strus hasn't been lights out all the time from beyond the arc. He's shot 34.8 percent from three, and for his career, he's hit 36.4 percent of his three-point attempts. There are some games where he's going to be off from a percentage standpoint, as Strus has taken on a larger role beyond just shooting and defending.

The Cavaliers have found a great deal of help from the Illinois native in a variety of ways. Strus has been a steady contributor in other areas, exceeding expectations defensively, and being a plus secondary playmaker for Cleveland. He's had career-bests in points (12.2), rebounds (4.8) and assists (3.9) per contest with an increased workload, and he's often given Cleveland juice with his energy plays.

Georges Niang was the other key offseason addition for Cleveland. Niang was brought in as another perimeter shooter for the Cavaliers to utilize in the rotation for an added spacing element and was a player with meaningful postseason experience as well. Though not mentioned in Bailey's article, Niang's presence has helped Cleveland add depth, shooting and playoff experience.

He's a bit underwhelming at times, but as the season has worn on, Niang started to settle in. Throughout the year, he's hit 37.3 percent of his three-point shots. The real test will be seeing if Niang can continue providing reliable shooting in the playoffs.

The Strus and Niang moves were the relatively notable ones, but Craig Porter, Jr.'s breakout has also been a major bright spot for the Cavs' year. Porter looks to be quite the find for the Cavaliers to have as a rotational piece that could have a larger role in years ahead, based on what he demonstrated earlier in the season when he had far more opportunities.

Circling back, it was paramount that Cleveland added guys who can help their shooting and spacing efforts for the postseason, such as Strus, who, despite some inconsistencies, has made a two-way impact. Now, can he and the Cavs rebound from their late-regular season struggles and flip the switch in the playoffs? That's the question fans have continually been wondering.

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