Grade the Trade: Cleveland Cavaliers ignite Charlotte Hornets fire sale in bold proposal

Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers
Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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The Cleveland Cavaliers currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, but as their rivals make aggressive moves in the trade market, the Cavs cannot afford to stay silent before the postseason.

Last season, the Cavaliers were one of only two teams that did not make a trade before the deadline. While the Cavs had reportedly neared a deal with the Brooklyn Nets for veteran forward and friend of Donovan Mitchell Royce O'Neale, the Nets backed out last minute and committed to their group. After the failed negotiations, the Cavs opted to test their resilience in the playoffs. They fell in five games to the New York Knicks and have been aggressive in efforts to improve since the defeat.

This upcoming trade deadline is a final opportunity for Cleveland to push toward contention, and they have reportedly been eyeing tall 3-and-D wings in a deal. O'Neale reemerged as a favorite name alongside teammate Dorian Finney-Smith and Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter. If the Cavs are interested in revisiting the ones that got away, then calling the Charlotte Hornets regarding P.J. Washington should be seriously considered.

Cleveland Cavaliers showed interest in P.J. Washington

Toward the end of the offseason, the Cavaliers reportedly spoke to the Charlotte Hornets to discuss a sign-and-trade for P.J. Washington who was a restricted free agent at the time. Talks never made it far when Washington's desired salary would have been outside of Cleveland's price range at the moment. Instead, Washington signed a three-year, $46.5 million contract to remain with the Hornets for the time being.

Completing a second sign-and-trade in the same offseason was likely a pipe dream for the Cavs, as they began free agency with a 4-year, $64 million deal to acquire Max Strus from the Miami Heat. As the deadline approaches, though, the Cavs are in an ideal spot to reignite talks surrounding the 25-year-old forward.

If the Cavaliers are looking to add bigger wings with two-way versatility, Washington fits the bill. While they have not been publicly reported to be eyeing Washington again, one phone call can change everything.

Sitting at 13 in the Eastern Conference, the Hornets are amid another season of lackluster basketball as a low-tier defense and an offense that can only thrive when LaMelo Ball is healthy and at his best. Of any team looking to sell at the deadline, Charlotte looks like a prime candidate to make a move toward youth and future drafts.

After trading Terry Rozier to the Miami Heat for Kyle Lowry and a protected 2027 first-round pick, Charlotte is seemingly open for business on the majority of their talent pool this deadline. Both Washington and Miles Bridges soak up some of the possible rotational minutes at the forward spots, but the Hornets likely hope to give their latest draft addition Brandon Miller the vast majority of these minutes. This makes a trade surrounding Charlotte's existing forward depth their best choice for growing their future and developing their current young talent.