With the Cleveland Cavaliers in an up-and-down season of injuries, inconsistency and a desperate desire to go farther than the first round of the playoffs, the 2024 trade deadline is leading to no shortage of possibilities and rumors.
Currently, the Cavaliers are battling for a top-six seed in the Eastern Conference as the New York Knicks and early-risers Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers all eye the same coveted guaranteed playoff spot. Only a year after taking homecourt advantage with the fourth seed, the Cavs' injury woes caused an early plummet that they have been clawing back from since.
The injury concerns are not over yet, though, as both star point guard Darius Garland and big man Evan Mobley will miss several weeks of action ahead of the trade deadline. Shockingly, Cleveland has not only treaded water without two of their three best players, their standing in the conference has improved thanks to breakout performances from unlikely sources.
In a four-game stretch without Garland, Mobley and a sick Donovan Mitchell, the depleted Cavaliers went 3-1, overthrowing a surging Dallas Mavericks following Luka Doncic's historic Christmas Day performance. Not only has this recent period shown the value of Cleveland's improved depth from their offseason moves and internal growth, it has likely increased numerous Cavaliers' trade value as trade season has begun.
As it often happens, reports suggest an imbalanced deadline with more teams looking to buy-in rather than sell their talent for parts. The Cavaliers probably fall into the former category, hoping to build upon their current foundation and make a push for a better playoff push than last season. Cleveland has until midday on February 8, 2024 to make anything happen, leaving just over a full month left to close a deal.
The Cavaliers were one of only two NBA teams to remain silent at the previous trade deadline, opting instead to see what the current roster could do in the playoffs. They ended the regular season with the team's first 50-win season without LeBron James since his 2003 draft night, making the quiet deadline seem like the right choice. Unfortunately, a mix of bad matchup luck, poor 3-point shooting and a lack of postseason experience pushed Cleveland to an early offseason after the first round.
After an offseason centered on keeping their young core intact and finding complementary pieces, the Cavaliers are in a unique position this trade deadline to continue their trajectory as a budding potential contender with a wealth of young talent. Whether Cleveland makes a major shift in personnel or finds improvements around the edges, another silent deadline would be a peculiar decision by the front office.
With any mid-season move, the Cavs will have to evaluate their own players' potentials on the market based on their current production, team fit, salary and their comparative value to their potential replacement on the market.
These four Cavaliers are most likely to see their names floating around the trade rumor mill, regardless of the team's actual trade intentions.
We'll begin with a veteran playmaker first.