The Cleveland Cavaliers made a lot of noise in the offseason when they acquired Donovan Mitchell. Not surprisingly, they’re playing great this season. They currently have a 29-19 win-loss record. That’s good enough for second place in the Central Division and fifth place in the entire Eastern Conference. Despite that, we expect the Cavaliers to be active during the trade deadline. We’re not sure if they’ll actually get a deal done, but they will look for a couple of players to upgrade their roster. That said, here we will look at the dream scenario that the Cavaliers are hoping for as we close in on the 2023 NBA trade deadline.
The Cavs are having a successful season and are among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They have a strong net rating and the best defensive rating in the league. However, some question if their roster is actually strong enough to be a true title contender. The team’s biggest weakness is the small forward position. Right now, they have some placeholders in that position, but they may need to address it on a more permanent basis. The return of Dean Wade from injury will help but will not solve all of their issues.
However, it will be difficult to acquire a new starter without any first-round picks to trade. The team’s most realistic opportunity may be in free agency with the mid-level exception. Players such as Caris LeVert and Dylan Windler are worth monitoring as they have expiring contracts and could be interesting trade pieces. The team will have to consider all options, including a possible flier on Isaac Okoro. Despite this, the team is currently performing well and will likely look to improve its roster at the trade deadline.
With that said, let’s look at the Cavaliers’ dream scenario for the 2023 NBA trade deadline.
Cavs acquire either Jae Crowder or Josh Hart
The Cavs have been searching for a solution at the small forward position for the past four months. Truth be told, they have yet to find a really suitable player. They have experimented with several options, sure. However, none have been able to provide a balance of offense and defense.
This is why they should consider bringing in either Jae Crowder or Josh Hart. Those are two players who may really address the team’s small forward needs.
Crowder is known for his defensive toughness and his ability to shoot well from long range. He may not have better potential than Cedi Osman, who has performed well for Cleveland. However, in the playoffs, the team would benefit from Crowder’s experience, defensive versatility, physicality, and toughness. If he can consistently shoot well from long distance, he could even earn a spot in the starting lineup. However, trading for Crowder may be difficult for the Cavs. Remember that the Suns, who currently have him, also want to win now and would want assets in return that can help cover for Crowder’s departure.
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Josh Hart is another possible addition. He is a well-rounded player who has started 44 games for the Portland Trail Blazers this season. He’s averaging 9.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He also has a career three-point shooting percentage of 34.6 percent. Hart is currently earning nearly $13 million this year and has a player option for the same amount in the upcoming offseason.
The Cavs can acquire either Crowder or Hart by offering Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, and two second-round picks (2026 and 2028) in exchange. However, they must consider if Hart is a significant improvement over Okoro. The latter has been performing well lately after being put back in the starting lineup. In fact, Okoro has shot 57.1 percent from beyond the arc and 55.9 percent from the field in January. The Cavs have gone 6-5 during that period. In one game against the Grizzlies, Okoro went 6-of-6 from the field, scoring 17 points and hitting all four of his three-point shots.
If the Cavs stand pat and hold, they should be okay. They’ll still be a true East contender. However, if they manage to land, say, Jae Crowder, then their ceiling goes up quite significantly. Will the Cavs pull the trigger on a deal and roll the dice?