It feels redundant to say, but next season feels like a make-or-break year for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Following the hiring of new head coach Kenny Atkinson and the Donovan Mitchell contract extension, the team must show marked improvement in the 2024-25 campaign. Essentially, that means the Cavs need to evolve into a genuine threat in the East.

On paper, they have the balanced roster to compete with the best of the conference. Mitchell and Darius Garland lead a top-tier backcourt and Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen hold down the paint area. Those four athletes comprise a scintillating core that should launch Cleveland into undeniable contender status.

The squad is not being mentioned in that conversation, though. While teams ahead of and behind them in the Eastern Conference hierarchy continue to ascend, the Cavaliers are stagnating a bit. The players mentioned above should technically not even be in their primes yet, so more growth should be on the way. But the squad is still lacking some offensive firepower.

There may be a way to secure it, however.

“It is not yet clear how serious the interest is, but league sources describe Cleveland as a team to watch in potential sign-and-trade scenario for Miles Bridges,” NBA correspondent Marc Stein reported. “New Hornets executive vice president of basketball operations Jeff Peterson has said publicly that Charlotte hopes to retain Bridges, but Bridges is known to be interested in sign-and-trade options.

The Charlotte Hornets are entering a new era with Peterson and head coach Charles Lee taking charge and they may want to immediately start shaping their vision for the franchise. Dealing away Bridges can help them do just that. It could also give the Cavs a potential equalizer.

Should Cavs push hard for Miles Bridges?

Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges (0) goes to the basket for a dunk against the Boston Celtics during the second half at Spectrum Center.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Fans keep waiting on Evan Mobley to take the next leap into stardom and morph into a two-way force, but the All-Defensive First-Teamer might need more time to polish his offensive skill set. He is only 23 years of age, after all. Bridges is a ready-made bucket-getter, though.

The No. 12 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft is more efficient and impactful than Caris LeVert or Max Strus, scoring 21.0 points per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and just under 35 percent from behind the 3-point line last season. Bridges also pulled down 7.3 rebounds per game for Charlotte, which could be valuable for a Cleveland team that ranked 17th in the NBA in that category.

Simply put, Miles Bridges raises the Cavaliers’ ceiling. He would still be a polarizing acquisition, of course. The 26-year-old forward was at the center of a domestic violence incident and pleaded no contest to the felony charge of injuring a child’s parent in November of 2022. The NBA subsequently suspended Bridges for 30 games, 20 of which were already served since he missed the entirety of the 2022-23 season.

The former Michigan State star also faced criminal charges in 2023 for allegedly violating a protective order that was put in place as part of his sentencing, but they were ultimately dropped due to “a lack of sufficient evidence.” He is now looking to move forward, possibly with a new franchise.

There are probably plenty of Cavs fans who would prefer that Bridges not represent their team, but president of basketball operations Koby Altman may view him as a postseason difference-maker. And if that is the case, then Cleveland is going to make a strong push in the days to follow.