We're officially in the dull stretch of the NBA offseason with the Las Vegas Summer League safely distant in the rearview mirror and training camp is still a few exits away. It's the equivalent of where you have to go to the bathroom and you're not 100% sure if you can make it to the next major exit. Or, in a less graphic sense visually, it's where fans start to get bored due to a lack of something happening. Most major free agency moves and transactions have been completed, along with the majority of roster spots being filled, so now fans are killing time by making up hypothetical scenarios for teams that have roster spots and a slow trickle of news coming out of them.
One of those teams is the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had a solid offseason all things considered. On the night of the 2021 NBA Draft, the Cavaliers took Evan Mobley who is arguably one of the best players in the draft but will need some time to season. On the same night they took Mobley, they traded Taurean Prince to the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire point guard Ricky Rubio. After that when free agency began they signed Jarrett Allen to a five-year, $100 million extension locking him into Cleveland for the foreseeable future.
If you're keeping score at home, the Cavaliers were able to add the best player available to their young core, finally added a reliable option behind Darius Garland and locked up the best player in their young core on a reasonable contract. Other than that, that's it for Cleveland – which is a little worrisome. The start of training camp is only a few weeks away and right now the Cavaliers only have two true wings on their roster in Isaac Okoro and Cedi Osman. If you want to get funky with it, there's also Larry Nance Jr. and Lamar Stevens as well but those two are tweeners that are better as fours who can play spot minutes as a three.
In a modern, more perimeter-focused NBA the lack of perimeter depth remains suboptimal for Cleveland. Especially when, according to sources, the team has been aggressive throughout free agency in acquiring a wing player that can provide perimeter shooting along with some tertiary defense. The problem for the Cavaliers is that whomever they met with would simply sign with a different team for less money or completely price Cleveland out financially. A lot of these signings that could have been are hamstrung mostly due to Kevin Love's albatross contract worth $31.3 million on the team's payroll next season. But, it's also no secret that the shores of Lake Erie aren't a free agency destination but based on how things have panned out it has become a constant reminder for the Cavaliers this offseason.
That's why if Cleveland wants to sign a wing in free agency prior to the start of camp, they may have to find a soft spot in their heart for cripples and bastards and broken things. This means the Cavaliers have to search the absolute bottom of the barrel for perimeter players. Thankfully it isn't a total lost cause with names like Alfonzo McKinnie, Denzel Valentine and Svi Mykhailiuk out there. According to sources, both McKinnie's and Valentine's camps would be open to joining Cleveland on a cheaper deal with the former wanting to reunite with a coaching staff that believed in him most on both ends of the floor. Mykhailiuk, meanwhile, is also a target of interest for the Cavaliers, according to sources. But, those same sources also said that the Detroit Pistons could be a thorn in Cleveland's side in acquiring Mykhailiuk due to the Ukrainian forward's existing familiarity with the Pistons organization.
Granted, those names don't inspire a ton of hope and it also doesn't help that the team traded Prince, a quality rotation wing, for Rubio but it was a necessary move. But, it also gives perspective on how strained the Cavaliers' financial situation is. If Cleveland wants to acquire a higher quality wing, they'll more than likely have to trade for him.
In terms of trade assets, the most valuable the Cavaliers possess are either draft picks like their own 2022 first-rounder or a 2022 second-rounder via Houston or players like Nance due to a surplus of power forwards on the depth chart. While Cleveland would prefer not to move Nance, a Northeast Ohio native who possesses a valuable skillset, the fact that Mobley is in tow and Love's contract is immovable may give the Cavaliers no other option if they seriously want to upgrade their wing depth.
With that in mind, you then need to look at teams that might have a surplus of players of their own in order to make a hypothetical trade happen. For example, take the Memphis Grizzlies who currently have nineteen players on their payroll. Sure, Memphis could waive, or trade, some of their cheaper deals to get down to the NBA-maximum fifteen players on their roster. But, it doesn't help that the Grizzlies have young players like Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams and Brandon Clarke pushing for minutes in the rotation as well.
That means Cleveland could swoop in with an offer to help out Memphis and their rotational issues. According to sources, the Cavaliers are already interested in trying to acquire either Dillon Brooks or Kyle Anderson from Memphis to address their issues on the perimeter. Would a trade involving Nance be enough to entice the Grizzlies? Per sources, if Cleveland were to include next year's first with light protections as well it just might be. If the Cavaliers wanted to go all-in with their assets with the Grizzlies, if they included the Houston pick as well there could be a way to pry both Steven Adams, Evan Mobley's mentor, as well. According to sources, things remain fluid in trade discussions but the situation between Cleveland and Memphis is one worth monitoring going forward.
But, if a trade does not materialize between the Grizzlies and Cavaliers or Cleveland doesn't feel comfortable giving up a ton in a trade, they could always turn to division rival Detroit. The Pistons currently have 16 players on their payroll and if they want to sign Mykhailiuk they'll obviously need to get rid of two. According to sources, Jahlil Okafor is a likely candidate to be waived by Detroit while raw French forward Sekou Doumbouya could be had in a trade. Entering his third season, Doumbouya has been fairly disappointing for the Pistons with career averages of 5.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game.
With that said, it doesn't mean Doumbouya is exactly available for scraps. Yes, he has been fairly lackluster performance-wise during his NBA career. But, per sources, due to his upside and age, the asking price could still be as high as a quality second-round selection. Thankfully, Cleveland has an asset like that in the 2022 second-rounder via Houston and that could be enough to grease the wheels and send Doumbouya south on I-75.
Other than that, it appears the Cavaliers' options are limited for now. If they head into training camp without addressing it and banking on their internal growth, it could be a risky proposition for many throughout the organization. Thankfully, according to sources, the organization is well aware of the need for wing depth and remains aggressive in trying to upgrade that position. It remains to be seen what will happen, as everything remains fluid, but it feels likely there are one or two moves left coming Cleveland's way.