Last off-season, the Cleveland Cavaliers made perhaps the biggest splash by trading a helluva ton of draft assets for former Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. That transaction included three Cavs first-round picks and two pick swaps. As such, the Cavaliers are currently constrained by the draft assets they may utilize in subsequent transactions. And now as they approach the playoffs, the Cavs continue hoping to keep improving. Will that ambition, however, result in a major misstep instead? Here we will look at what potential 2023 NBA trade deadline move the Cavs would regret.
The Cavs currently have a 31-22 record. They sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Not surprisingly, they look quite good in terms of postseason positioning. They also have the third-best point differential in the entire league this season. The team’s young roster means the title window for this team is just opening. However, it also means they lack playoff experience. As such, they should look to possibly add more veteran presence at the trade deadline. That has to be tempered, though, by the need to find a player who fits their timeline. This is one reason why Cleveland has been linked to potential upgrades, particularly at the wing position. Guys like Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanovic, Dallas’ Tim Hardaway Jr., and Utah’s Malik Beasley have all been mixed up in rumors. In exchange, the Cavs are allegedly considering trading players like Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, or Cedi Osman.
Okoro has entered his third year now after the Cavs drafted him fifth overall in 2020. He is averaging a career-low 5.4 points per game with a 30.6 percent three-point shooting rate. Osman, a reserve this season, is averaging under 10 points per game and shooting 61 percent on 2-pointers. That’s a career-best. Meanwhile, LeVert, previously part of the James Harden trade, is averaging 12.6 points per game for Cleveland.
Keep in mind that the Cavs have $37 million in cap space next season and can absorb long-term salary via trade. They also have an open roster spot and the option to sign players through buyouts. With a history of making deadline deals, including acquiring LeVert last year, it’s likely that the Cavs will at least attempt to make a move again by the deadline.
With all these said, let’s look at what potential 2023 NBA trade deadline move the Cavs would regret.
Cavs try to fix what isn’t really broken
The big question in the Land, however, is this — do the Cavs really need to upgrade their wings? Do they have to do it now? Despite extensive discussions, this remains a topic of debate. While the return of Dean Wade from injury has helped, it is certainly not a complete solution. Okoro’s recent success in three-point shooting is a positive, but he’s not reliable enough in a playoff setting. LeVert and even Lamar Stevens have filled the SF spot well in spurts. The downside, though, is their defensive ability and inconsistent off-ball shooting. For his part, Osman’s poor perimeter shooting and defense have just made him an unreliable if not expendable option.
Of course, looking ahead and looking at this team’s depth, the need for upgrading the wings is not really a foregone conclusion. Again, remember that the team does not have a first-round pick to offer in a trade. Cleveland also doesn’t possess a highly sought-after prospect to make a deal. The most appealing package they could offer would include LeVert’s expiring contract plus a second-round pick or Okoro. Even then, it’s unclear if that would be enough to acquire a true difference-maker. Rumors are the Cavs like San Antonio’s Josh Richardson, but the Spurs won’t let him go for THAT package.
OH MY JOSH RICHARDSON!!! 😱❌ pic.twitter.com/1cBQSZ7fr5
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 18, 2023
Despite this, the Cavs have been playing really well this season. No matter what happens, they are in a strong position in the Eastern Conference. They’re not perfect, but nothing is really that broken. As such, we don’t really think they need to make a trade right now. Of course, they still might want to explore trade options. If the PERFECT trade lands on their laps, why not, right? I mean, if they can maybe secure a player like Richardson, Doug McDermott, or even Beasley by offering LeVert and Okoro/Osman/picks, that wouldn’t be so bad.
Then there is Hardaway Jr. of the Mavs. If the Cavaliers can sign him without spending a fortune, it will give them another wing who can make shots. Be aware that whenever he starts for the Mavs, the veteran is averaging 15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and shooting 37.7 percent from three-point range. He would unquestionably be the starting SF in Cleveland.
Again, however, the danger is if they’re too trigger-happy to pull off another big deal without really thinking about the repercussions. That kind of approach can just blow up what’s already a very good thing going in Cleveland.