It’s here, Cavs Nation.
The 2023 NBA Draft will begin on Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT. The San Antonio Spurs will be on the clock first Thursday evening. The Charlotte Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons took spots behind them.
Armed with the No. 49 pick in this year’s draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers will look to add to their blossoming roster late in the second round. Cleveland has had first-round choices in the last five drafts, rounding out a young core featuring guard Darius Garland, forward Evan Mobley and forward Isaac Okoro.
The Cavs will need to address their need for a backup center, a consistent small forward option and shooting during the offseason. Guard Caris LeVert, who shot 39.2% from 3-point range during the regular season, will become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. Center Robin Lopez, a 15-year NBA veteran who averaged 8.1 minutes per game for Cleveland last season, is also listed as an unrestricted free agent.
“The pick I keep hearing about is 23 with Portland,” Windhorst said, via Game 7. “Where I have actionable intelligence is pick 23. The Cavs, from what I understand, have had a lot of talks with the Blazers, not just for the 23rd pick. I think they have some interest in Nassir Little, who was a forward who was injured for a lot of last year but has already signed his contract extension.
“I think the Cavs have liked him in the past. That’s a guy they have interest in so it may not even involve a pick. It may involve Nassir Little and a pick, or maybe nothing.”
Cleveland.com Cavs reporter Chris Fedor wrote the Cavaliers are attempting to move back into the first round and have held “numerous conversations with teams in the 20s” in a Thursday article.
“The Cavs don’t have a first-round pick tonight, sending it to the Indiana Pacers last February as part of the Caris LeVert deal,” Fedor wrote. “But sources maintain they are attempting to move back into the first round, holding numerous conversations with teams in the 20s.”
Should the Cavaliers go for a trade centered around Little and Portland’s No. 23 pick?
A Long-Term Depth Option at the Wing
Every modern team needs depth at the wing.
Little, who was taken by the Blazers one spot ahead of the Cavaliers in the 2019 NBA Draft, earned averages of six points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game during his four seasons in the NBA.
Forwards Cedi Osman, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade, Lamar Stevens and guard Sam Merrill all at least have the option of returning to the Cavaliers in 2023, according to Spotrac. Osman, Merrill and Stevens are all listed with non-guaranteed deals. Stevens has a team option for the 2023-24 season. Osman and Stevens will become unrestricted free agents in 2024. Okoro will become a restricted free agent the same year.
Little agreed to a four-year, $28 million contract extension with the Blazers in 2022. He will have cap hits of $6.25 million and $6.75 million during the first two seasons of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent in 2027.
Having a player who can be locked down at a decent price for the next four seasons can do wonders in keeping some consistency on the roster for the foreseeable future. Little will have to improve his efficiency from beyond the arc, but he could be a decent backup for the Cavaliers if they keep him around for the remaining years of his contract.
Adding a First-Round Draft Selection
The Cavaliers could benefit from having a first-round selection in this year’s draft.
The Cavs can have a few options to pair with Little at the two or the three in the 2023 NBA draft. Yahoo! Sports NBA Draft Analyst Krysten Peek had G League Ignite forward Leonard Miller falling to the Blazers at No. 23 in her mock draft. Marquette forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper was selected by Portland in the most recent mock draft from ClutchPoints. If it finds its way into the first round, Xavier guard Colby Jones or UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. could be solid options for Cleveland.
The Cavs will be able to either make a riskier pick or try to draft for need if they can keep their No. 49 pick in the trade for Little and Portland’s pick. Washington State forward Mouhamed Gueye, a two-year veteran for the Cougars, slid to Cleveland’s pick in ESPN’s mock draft. Forward Emoni Bates, a 6-foot-10-inch forward from Eastern Michigan, could be a high-potential pick to look out for if he falls to Cleveland at 49.