Grade the Trade: Cavaliers keep core intact, add talented wing in 3-team proposal

Could the Cleveland Cavaliers land a former draft target in a 3-team trade this offseason?
Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls
Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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Do the Cavaliers say yes?

While the Cavs receive the least in return, they also give up the least. For the Cavaliers, this is functionally a one-for-one swap of LeVert and Hunter. But, the Hawks would likely show little interest in LeVert with their present backcourt rotation filled. Thus, Cleveland joins this trade alongside the Thunder instead.

In a direct swap of talent, Hunter could be considered a lateral move, but his fit with Cleveland is far better than LeVert had. In his time with the Cavs, LeVert's role constantly shited from the bench and starting lineup. The Cavaliers initially viewed LeVert as an answer to the starting small forward spot, but his ball-dominant approach to offense and inconsistent shooting made him a better fit as a leader for the second unit.

Hunter, on the other hand, is an off-ball shooting threat primarily, fitting what the Cavaliers hoped to find in LeVert. Per Basketball Index, Hunter shot 42 percent from three last season, ranking in the 92nd percentile across the league. Hunter also shot 43 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts - the 89th percentile. As an off-ball wing option, Hunter could thrive with the Cavs at either forward position. At 6-foot 8-inches, Hunter has a build to play a combo forward, unlike Max Strus' and Isaac Okoro's role as either a three or two.

Defensively, Hunter's reputation is still to be determined. Basketball Index ranked him in the 89th percentile for defensive positional versatility last season, but he has only recorded a positive D-LEBRON score twice in his career. Hunter's inconsistent two-way impact is likely a product of Atlanta's lacking defensive schemes rather than Hunter's individual limitations. In college, Hunter started on a leading defensive roster with the Virginia Cavaliers, suggesting that the right situation could improve Hunter's defensive consistency.

. . Final Trade Grade. DeAndre Hunter to Cavs Grade. B+

While Hunter's defense would be a question mark entering the season, the cost to acquire him is well worth the risk. LeVert's wavering role and expiring contract make this trade an ideal swap for the Cavs. Hunter answers Cleveland's need for a large combo forward with reliable three-point production.

The Cleveland Cavaliers showed interest in Hunter in the 2019 NBA Draft, but he was selected by the Hawks one pick ahead of Cleveland at number five. Instead, the Cavs drafted All-Star point guard Darius Garland. While the Cavs are surely happy with their selection, they would probably welcome a chance to add the one that got away for this price.

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