Caris LeVert could be a game-changing trade asset for Cleveland
One of Cleveland's first offseason deals was re-signing veteran swingman and Ohio native Caris LeVert to a two-year, $32 million contract.
Last season, LeVert never found a consistent role with the Cavaliers, often bouncing in and out of the starting lineup. This year, the team has seemed committed to allowing LeVert to serve as the first man off the bench and second unit leader. In this role, LeVert has been a steady contributor, though his efficiency has dropped slightly from a year ago.
Why, then, should the Cavaliers trade their best bench player the same season they re-signed him? His $15.3 million salary this season and Cleveland's surplus of undersized in-between players could easily lead to an odd man out at the deadline. LeVert is not a clear 2 or 3, similar to Isaac Okoro and Max Strus, making a deal to round out the Cavaliers' overall depth and versatility needs to be seriously considered.
With his midsize contract and obvious talent, LeVert would bring the best return for the Cavs on the trade market. Additionally, LeVert has one more year guaranteed on the books, meaning his next team could enter next offseason without any real concerns over LeVert. Okoro, on the other hand, is entering restricted free agency this summer, meaning any suitor would want assurance that the young wing would re-sign on a reasonable deal. Strus just signed a four-year contract with the Cavs, making a trade for him unlikely, as well.
In a trade, LeVert brings guaranteed production immediately as both a veteran leader and two-way threat with a talented offensive game and strong defensive presence. The Cavaliers have no reason to need to deal LeVert, but he would be the role player with the most value at this coming deadline.
His graded value could shift from team to team given their current personnel, but LeVert's overall talent and contract makes him a worthwhile candidate for any contender.