While the NBA world has swarmed the Cleveland Cavaliers in anticipation of a Donovan Mitchell divorce, Marc Stein suggests a different approach for the Cavs at the trade deadline.
In his latest Substack entry, Stein agreed with NBA insider Chris Haynes' identical report from their recent #thisleague UNCUT podcast episode, citing the Cavs' intent to buy into their core four again in hopes of a better postseason run. Rather than making major shifts after one season with this squad, Cleveland is expected to pursue another 3-and-D wing in a win-now move.
Cleveland's interest in filling out their forward and wing rotations is no surprise, given their adamant focus on those roles in free agency. Former Miami Heat wing Max Strus and veteran sharpshooter Georges Niang topped the Cavs' summer wishlist, becoming the newest players to don the wine and gold.
While both Strus and Niang have made an impact for the Cavs already, the overall strength of Cleveland's forward depth has room for improvement. Especially with Evan Mobley sidelined past the trade deadline, the Cavaliers have witnessed the value of floor spacing in the frontcourt. Adding another reliable shooter with size and defensive talents would be an invaluable asset for the budding contender in Cleveland.
What can the Cavaliers offer in a trade?
Honestly, the biggest roadblock for Cleveland in trade discussions is their evaporated pool of trade assets. Buying at the deadline typically warrants surrendering draft picks, but the Cavs have no tradeable first-round picks available after the Donovan Mitchell deal.
What the Cavs do have, however, is a stockpile of second-round picks and young talents on team-friendly contracts to entice a rebuilding franchise. With more and more NBA talents being found later in the draft, the Cavaliers' offers might be worthwhile in the right deal. Given the package the New York Knicks sent to the Toronto Raptors for OG Anunoby, proven young talent with potential for more growth likely holds more value this year than the chance at an early draft pick in the future.
Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade and even Sam Merrill fit this bill and could be ideal starting points for trade negotiations at the deadline. Each player has showcased a skillset that suits the modern NBA this season and are all on reasonable contracts. Okoro will enter restricted free agency this summer, allowing a suitor to retain the young wing in the summer for the long term.
With this in mind, the Cavaliers need to get the most out of a deal for any of these players. They have been major contributors as the Cavs fight through injuries, and selling low on them would be a detrimental mistake. The following four players could be perfect fits for the Cavaliers in the latter half of the regular season.