Grade the Trade: Cavaliers make their bid for contention in bold deadline proposal

Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets
Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets / Al Bello/GettyImages
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The 2024 trade deadline is mere weeks away, and the Cleveland Cavaliers' late growth shows potential to leap into contention with the right mid-season deal.

Following the franchise's first 50-win season in roughly half a decade, the Cavaliers started the 2023-24 campaign battling just to remain in the Play-In Tournament after a rocky start to the year with constant injury woes. Their last 11 matches without either Darius Garland or Evan Mobley have shown a new side to Cleveland, though, as their bolstered offensive scheme and rebounding has vaulted the Cavaliers to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Over this stretch, the Cavs have a league-leading 43.7 three-point attempts per game and a second-best 109.7 defensive rating. Rather than falling apart, Cleveland has elevated above their shortcomings and looks prepped for a major upgrade at the trade deadline. Finding the right deal would fill the missing puzzle piece for the Cavaliers for a deep postseason run.

The Cavaliers' top trade targets

As it stands, the Cavaliers' rotation is vastly improved from the prior season, adding veteran experience and shooting in Max Strus and Georges Niang in free agency. Additionally, Cleveland re-signed Caris LeVert to a two-year, $32 million deal. The Wine and Gold heavily prioritized floor spacing in their offseason moves, and recent reports suggest the Cavs will continue to target floor-spacing forwards as the trade buzzer approaches.

Cavaliers insider Chris Fedor of addressed the team's possible options on the market in his Wine and Gold Talk Podcast, confirming interest in a number of talented veteran wings. While the Cavs lack any first-round picks at their disposal in a deal, their wealth of young players on mid-sized contracts and second-round picks make the Cavs an ideal trade suitor for several players.

Bleacher Report predicted the Cavaliers will add a backup playmaker to their squad at the deadline, citing Ricky Rubio's retirement as a catalyst to bring another point guard to Cleveland. Considering Cleveland's current lineup of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert and breakout rookie Craig Porter, Jr. as backcourt facilitators, Fedor's suggestion is likely a better choice to strengthen their playoff chances.