Grade the Trade: Cavaliers add star to chase the Finals in wild Fanspo proposal

Should the Cleveland Cavaliers star chase this summer?
New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One
New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
3 of 3

Would the Cavaliers say yes?

While this trade brings another former All-Star to the team and adds size to their forward rotation, they lose two of their best defenders and create a new problem with a hole in their frontcourt. While Ingram has the size to play the four spot at times, he is not capable of playing in the frontcourt full-time. This would mean that Max Strus moves to the bench with Ingram sliding into the small forward starting spot. Now, the Cavaliers must add another center or power forward and put Evan Mobley next to them.

Assuming Cleveland stays active in free agency, they could realistically find another frontcourt starter with their Mid-Level Exception once this trade is completed. They may also hand the role to Dean Wade after his stellar performance during Cleveland's mid-season run last December and January. If they can fill the hole in the frontcourt, they would have to feel confident that Strus and Caris LeVert can fill the point-of-attack defensive void losing Okoro creates for the second unit.

Still, Ingram is undeniably a better offensive force than either Okoro or Allen. For as much talent as those two display, the Cavaliers did not trade for Mitchell to have a fun team that has might reach their potential through in-house development. Neither Okoro nor Allen should be considered untouchable by Cleveland this offseason.

In order to keep Mitchell around and improve the team, the Cavs must seriously consider trading Darius Garland, Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen. With NOLA's interest in Allen, he is the most realistic path to adding a star the level of Ingram.

In total, the decision for the Cavaliers in this deal comes down to their faith in Ingram as the answer to becoming a true contender. They would not have an out or way to reverse the trade if things go sour with a core of Mitchell, Ingram, Garland and Mobley. The Cavs do not control their own draft luck, and this trade would invest the vast majority of their cap space into these four players, especially once Mobley receives his coming contract extension.

Is Brandon Ingram the right player for Cleveland to go all-in for?

At only 26 years old, Brandon Ingram is not a finished product. He would still have ways to develop and grow, but he would not likely show any major alterations to his game in the next few seasons. He would, however, be playing with the best backcourt of his career and a bonafide superstar in Donovan. This could easily elevate Ingram's game if he can impact winning for Cleveland on both ends of the court. He and Mitchell are on the same general timeline for growth, meaning they would be paired together during both of their prime seasons.

Last season, Ingram's averages dipped a bit, notching 20.8 points per game after averaging 24.7 the season prior. This was likely caused by Zion, as the former Duke star played the majority of the regular season for the first time in his career. Ingram's usage and role was slightly diminished, explaining the small dip.

Without Williamson most nights, Ingram has not had a chance to play on a contending team, but it has also allowed him to learn how to take on a larger role and face a greater challenge suddenly. Ingram would give Mitchell some breathing room on offense, no longer searching for another contributor without any guarantees of finding one.

Still, Ingram is not an NBA superstar. He has only earned one All-Star appearance and has no real playoff success to celebrate. Considering the Cavs' assets available for trade, though, Ingram is a substantial offensive upgrade from Allen or Okoro. Unless the Cavaliers are willing to part ways with Garland or Mobley, they are unlikely to land an All-NBA star to pair with Mitchell any time soon.

This trade is not perfect. No team involved answers all of their questions with this deal, but all three take a step in the right direction. Portland stays young and adds a defensive stopper. The Pelicans finally get the center they have wanted and begin fixing their salary problems. The Cavaliers move toward contention and bring in an exciting and dynamic athlete to put alongside Mitchell for the next era of Cleveland ball.

Cavs-Ingram trade grade. B+. . . Final Trade Grade

With Ingram's age, offensive talent and flexibility in filling his role, he might be the answer the Cavaliers need to make a strong case to win the East next season. There are still problems Cleveland would have to address, but nonetheless Ingram is undoubtedly a major step forward for a franchise looking to build around a superstar in Donovan Mitchell for the foreseeable future.

Next. LeBron James and Bronny GtT. Cavaliers bring LeBron & son home in Mitchell mock trade. dark