Major Decisions Looming as Cavs Enter a Crucial Stage


The Cleveland Cavaliers are at a critical decision point in their timeline.

Trade Approach

Do you run it back and risk not being aggressive enough?

Or trade a key piece for new talent and jeopardize the chemistry?

Utilizing a trade to upgrade the roster or improve the fit has been a hot topic amongst Cavs fans. Regarding draft assets, the Cavaliers possess the 20th pick in next week’s draft, then seven second-round picks. After the draft, the Cavs can access their 2031 first-round pick.

Koby Altman is not flush with enticing draft capital, but what Cleveland has, is talent.

Cleveland is doing everything in their power to persuade Donovan Mitchell to agree to an extension this off-season. They can offer him a four-year, $209 million contract. Recently, reporting has pointed in the direction of him extending.

So for this exercise, let’s act like Mitchell is staying and the task is building around him. Chris Fedor, an NBA and Cavs reporter, said on a recent podcast that he expects the Cavs to agree to a max extension with Evan Mobley. Therefor lets act like Mobley is staying too.

That leaves the Cavs with Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Max Strus, Caris LeVert and Dean Wade as notable potential trade assets.

What would the trades involving these players look like?

Trade Outlines

One of the most natural ideas for Garland is going to be a San Antonio Spurs package.

There is one framework that makes the most sense assuming the Cavs wont take some Dejounte Murray-style deal. Given the Cavs win-now mentality, a Spurs trade is risky, but could provide them with the wing player to unlock their max potential.

Cavs receive: Devin Vassell

Spurs receive: Darius Garland

While the Fanspo trade machine says this trade is legal straight up, it’s safe to imagine the Cavaliers would want to add something else to compensate for Garland’s All-Star status and the fact that he leads Vassell in every career category but blocks. With Vassell’s emergence this season, however, the Spurs likely wouldn’t be eager to include much else, if at all. This idea would bank on the Spurs’ belief in Garland being the playmaker to fully unlock Victor Wembanyama.

Cleveland would inherit a 23-year-old wing who can shoot the three very well (37% on 6.6 attempts). Vassell has improved his assist percentage every single year of his career while also getting to the rim more every season.

Another factor would be the Cavs’ faith in Vassell being the third or even second option that takes them to another level. That’s a hard sell considering he has yet to participate in a playoff game — which should not be held against him, but is context to at least mention — and has never surpassed the league average true shooting percentage.

These uncertainties make this move difficult to evaluate, but are at least worthy of considering following Garland’s struggles this post-season.

Maybe ownership can’t quite get behind this idea, so they look to someone more experienced.

Cavs receive: Mikal Bridges & Dorian Finney-Smith or Dennis Schroder

Nets receive: Darius Garland, 20th pick in 2024 draft

The sell for Brooklyn would be four guaranteed years of Darius Garland who is three years younger than Bridges. You have the chance to help him find his All-Star play and give him the complete freedom he used to have. All while obtaining a solid first-round pick and potentially some seconds depending on the negotiations.

Mikal is exactly the player the Cavs are searching for— a really talented 3&D wing who can put the ball on the floor and make plays. Prying him from Brooklyn may prove to be a challenge after recent reports have said the Nets have no plans on trading him.

Perhaps a Garland trade is selling too early on the fifth pick in the 2019 draft. The next-best asset would be Jarrett Allen, who’s coming off of a career-best season averaging 16.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

The Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans are the two most logical teams of interest. While Memphis makes sense, there are not a lot of players that make sense for Cleveland on their roster. So then what would happen if the Cavs visited an old friend in David Griffin?

Cavs receive: Herbert Jones

Pelicans receive: Jarrett Allen

With Jonas Valanciunas entering free agency, the Pelicans could make a play for a rim-protecting center who can finish around the rim. There are a few different avenues for this trade to work but Herb Jones checks a lot of boxes. 6-foot-8 3&D (42% on 3.6 3pt attempts) wing who made the First Team All-Defense this season. Because of New Orleans’ cap situation, there would need to be more to the trade but this framework could help both teams.

Let’s say the Cavs elect to keep their big four together for another year. What could the other assets obtain?

Cavs receive: Cameron Johnson + ?

Nets receive: Caris LeVert & Georges Niang + second(s)

This is a tricky one because the Nets have two opposite directions they could head in. If they choose to rebuild, then this return plus some seconds or if they surrender something juicy enough, the 2024 first rounder, could be a nice kickstart. Johnson is a career 39% three-point shooter on good volume. That could be the sauce to finish the recipe for the Cavaliers.

Closing Thoughts

This summer will tell a lot about how the ownership group views this group. How will they respond to the second-round exit?

There are so many ways to address the issues that arose during the 4-1 series loss to the eventual champions. Yet, Cleveland still has a lot to feel good about in the way that they went out, considering how close some of the losses were and the injuries that occurred.

Just one trade could be the difference between popping champagne with silly goggles on and watching the Finals unfold from Cancun.

About Mike Kline

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