Grade the Trade: new proposal deals Cavaliers star and forces a hard truth

San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers
San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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What's the deal?

Garland has become a staple in Cleveland basketball after his breakout third season in which he earned his only All-Star nod thus far in his career. Following Garland's arrival into stardom and Evan Mobley's monstrous rookie season, the Cavaliers pivoted from a rebuild into a race toward contention by trading for superstar guard Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz in September 2022.

This Fanspo deal suggests a pivot for the Cavaliers, not away from contending, but away from their current model for contention.

DG to SAS trade

In short, the deal swaps Garland for a young yet proven wing talent in Keldon Johnson, adding Zach Collins for salary matching and a single first-round pick to sweeten the pot. The San Antonio Spurs add a dynamic pass-first point guard alongside Victor Wembanyama after months of rumors circulating regarding the Spurs' interest in Atlanta's Trae Young. If San Antonio misses on Young, pivoting to Garland might bring in an even better partner for Wemby, considering Garland's willingness to hand the spotlight over to somebody else in order to win.

What is the ultimate point of this trade for either side, though? For the Spurs, they take a significant but calculated step toward winning sooner rather than later. With a generational talent such as the French dynamo, San Antonio has plenty of reasons to find a way to accelerate toward winning. Garland is still young but has already displayed talent worthy of a max contract. If San Antonio wants to prove to Victor they are ready to win, this is the perfect deal to send that message.

On the Cavaliers' side, they bring in an efficient scoring wing on a team-friendly deal and add a high lottery pick for this year's draft. They also get Collins, which may make the locker room tense after the on-court dramatics between Collns and the Cavs earlier this season. In theory, Johnson adds to Cleveland's wing depth and improves their size in the backcourt, assuming one of either Johnson or Max Strus start alongside Mitchell.

Does this deal make the Cavaliers any better?