What will the Cleveland Cavaliers walk away with after the 2023 NBA Draft ends?

The Cavs will enter this year’s draft with the No. 49 pick. It will be difficult, but not impossible, to find a player who can contribute immediately that far down in the draft.

The 2022 NBA Draft did see second-round picks who found their way into their respective team’s rotation during their first seasons in the NBA. Toronto Raptors center Christian Koloko, the No. 33 selection in last year’s draft, played in 58 games and started in 19 for Toronto during his rookie year. Though he didn’t see much time on the court in the games he played in last year, Portland Trail Blazers forward Jabari Walker played in 56 games for the Blazers after he was taken with the No. 57 selection.

Right Down Euclid Editor-in-Chief Evan Dammarell wrote the Cleveland Cavaliers could be looking for a way to trade into the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft in a Tuesday article.

“That doesn’t mean the Cavaliers won’t try to make a trade when the 2023 NBA Draft opens on Thursday evening,” Dammarell wrote. “Sources across the league have confirmed to Right Down Euclid the multiple reports that Cleveland is looking to find a way to sneak into the back half of the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft. A separate source shared that the Rockets (20), the Jazz (28) and Brooklyn Nets (21, 22) are all viewed as teams that the Cavaliers will speak with on a deal. 

“While Cleveland doesn’t have much asset-wise to work with, the same source said that Cedi Osman’s non-guaranteed $6.7 million contract could act as a lynchpin for a possible trade. If the Cavaliers could bring the teams mentioned above to the table, some believe Rudy Gay (Jazz) or Patty Mills (Nets) would be the players coming Cleveland’s way with a pick attached. Of course, trading with Utah would hinge on whether or not Gay picks up his $6.4 million player option next year, but there are options on the table for the Cavaliers.”

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.

“Charlotte and Utah (the organizations have a great working relationship, have consummated numerous deals recently and getting Rudy Gay back would be logical),” wrote Fedor.

Should the Cavaliers try to trade for Jazz forward Rudy Gay and the No. 28 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft? How would it help a Cavs roster that is looking to continue building off its first trip to the playoffs since 

A Veteran Option at the Small Forward

The Cavs could use a veteran option at the small forward.

Gay, a 17-year NBA veteran for five different NBA franchises, earned averages of 5.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and one assist per game during the 2022-23 season. He shot at an inefficient 38.0% from the field and 25.4% from 3-point range, but the 36-year-old forward embraced his role as a mentor for a Jazz squad that went 37-45 last season.

“I thought this year coming into it, I knew I was going to be more of a mentor,” Gay said in April, via ABC4 Sports Reporter Dana Greene. “Last year, I felt like I was going to help this team get over the hump. But you’ve got to be resilient and do everything. That’s part of the reason I’m still here, I’m guessing.”

Unlike a potential trade for Blazers forward Nassir Little and the No. 23 selection, Gay will not be locked down for the next few seasons. He will be on a $6.5 million player option heading into the 2023-24 season with a deadline of June 29. The former No. 8 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft signed a two-year, $12.1 million contract with the Jazz in 2021 after playing the previous few seasons with the San Antonio Spurs.

“Rudy brings a valuable veteran presence to the Jazz which will only enhance our group as it continues to evolve,” Jazz General Manager Justin Zanik said in a 2021 release. “He’s proven to be one of the most consistent players in the NBA over his 15-year career and we’re thrilled for him to join our club.”

Trading for a player on a player option may be more risky. But, if he were to stick around, he could provide valuable minutes off the bench for a Cavaliers squad that needs a surefire option at the three.

A Higher Pick on Draft Night

No team can ever have too many selections on draft night.

Even at No. 28, the Cavs can find plenty of options to pair with Gay at the wing spots. Bleacher Report had the Jazz selecting Duke forward Dariq Whitehead with the No. 28 pick in its most recent mock draft. The Athletic Staff Writer Zach Harper took Belmont guard Ben Sheppard with Utah’s third pick in The Athletic’s mock draft. Both players could be solid options to invest in if the Cavs don’t re-sign guards Caris LeVert or Danny Green in free agency.

Sheppard took pride in his versatility when he sat down for a one-on-one interview with the Indiana Pacers earlier this month.

“Super versatile,” Sheppard said when asked how he would describe his game. “Both on the defensive and offensive side. I feel I can do a lot. Most people know me as a shooter, a 3-and-D-type guy. But I think I’m more than that. I can pass the ball too, rebound, stuff like that.”