Constructing the perfect Cleveland Cavaliers trade deadline in 2024

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages
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Step 4: Trade for someone who can shoot and defend

This guideline seems simple enough, if not easy. The Cleveland Cavaliers have offensive creators and they have elite interior defenders, and they need to fill in the lineup between them. That's been the mandate for two seasons now since the Donovan Mitchell trade, and led them to make additions such as Max Strus and Georges Niang.

The difficulty, of course, is that every good NBA team is looking for such players. The "3-and-D" wing archetype is one of the most valued ones around the league, and role players who check one box and even a hint of the other are often some of the most pursued players on the trade market. The Cavs will need to outbid other teams for the players who fit this archetype, names like Dorian Finney-Smith or Gary Harris.

The Cavs may be tempted to try and shop in less expensive waters, especially considering their dearth of draft assets. Yet the reality is that their depth has shone through over the past two months, and trading for a bargain player who either shoots or defends won't cut it, because they won't play.

If Cleveland adds a pure shooter, it's highly unlikely they would see playing time over Sam Merrill or Georges Niang. If they add a defender with a questionable shot, why would they play over Isaac Okoro or Dean Wade? Trading their few remaining assets for a 12th-man isn't worth it, especially considering how tight J.B. Bickerstaff runs his rotations. It's a real two-way player or bust for Cleveland at this point.