A Cleveland Cavaliers trade deadline primer – Right Down Euclid mailbag

Caris LeVert and his expiring contract is Cleveland’s big bargaining chip. Are they able to get some thrifty wing depth with it?
levert trade deadline
CLEVELAND, OHIO – JANUARY 31: Caris LeVert #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers brings the ball up court during the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on January 31, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Heat defeated the Cavaliers 100-97. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Happy Monday, everyone! Last week, Right Down Euclid sent out a call to action to gauge if there was interest in having your questions answered. Well, since we’re a few days away from the annual NBA trade deadline, nearly every question imaginable was focused on that. It’s understandable since, you know, the Cleveland Cavaliers have the potential to make some serious noise on the back nine of the season.

It’s clear the Cavaliers have a dire need for production on the perimeter in terms of both shooting and defense. In a more shocking development, every team in the NBA could use some of that as well so it’s not an issue exclusive to Cleveland. But, due to the fact that they’re competing with everyone and more so the Cavaliers unloaded the clip to get Donovan Mitchell over the summer, Cleveland is a little light on assets to make a move. Sure, they have Caris LeVert, Cedi Osman and a few second-rounders to play with. But, that’s it really.

Regardless of what the Cavaliers do or don’t have, today, Right Down Euclid is going to try its best to answer all those trade deadline questions in what’s more or less an NBA trade deadline primer with a focus on what Cleveland can (and cannot) do.

Given the context of how the Cavaliers can only really work with LeVert, Osman and some picks, it makes it tricky to figure out the top three realistic trade targets. In the past, Right Down Euclid has reported that players like Josh Hart, Josh Richardson, Luke Kennard and even Malik Beasley are all names worth watching. Marc Stein reported that Tim Hardaway Jr. and Stein’s co-host Chris Haynes said that Cam Reddish are both names worth monitoring in regard to Cleveland. As we’re a few days away, I’ve combed around the league to figure out who is really in play for the Cavaliers. Sure, none of them are the permanent answer at small forward. Nevertheless, here’s the list:

1. Josh Hart (Trending towards very likely he’s a Cavalier at this point.)

2. Luke Kennard (Clippers want to unload his salary and he’s not viewed as a consistent member in the LA rotation.)

3. Josh Richardson (Gives you the same thing Hardaway does at a lot less, plays defense and the Spurs want to trade him.)

The true untouchables on the roster are like you said. It’s Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley According to sources, Isaac Okoro is viewed as someone the Cavaliers would prefer to keep through the deadline. But, if an offer were to blow Cleveland’s front office away and it cost them Okoro, it would be something that’s considered.

To be fair to Okoro, he’s been great ever since J.B. Bickerstaff inserted him into the starting lineup. He’s looking more confident and Sunday’s win over the Indiana Pacers showed what the apex of what Okoro can be within Cleveland’s new offensive dichotomy. Plus, he’s still on his rookie-scale contract so the fact that he’s cheaper, high-quality depth also helps his case toward staying with the Cavaliers.

After that, everyone else should be available for Cleveland other than perhaps Dean Wade, who is a key piece in the eyes of some within the Cavaliers organization.

How real is the Cam Reddish stuff? – Troy B., via submission

League sources can confirm that there is indeed some interest by the Cavaliers in acquiring Cam Reddish from the New York Knicks. The intrigue has always been there back to the night of the 2019 NBA Draft when Cleveland had the no. 5 pick. Instead, the Cavaliers took Darius Garland and Reddish went tenth overall to the Atlanta Hawks but, again, the intrigue still remains on Cleveland’s side of things.

Reddish is a bigger-bodied wing who still looks the part of a future scorer in this league. But, his production with Atlanta and virtual lack of production in New York still leave a lot of uncertainty surrounding his future. If the Cavaliers can buy low on Reddish, and they likely can (think Dylan Windler and a future draft pick), they could try and roll the dice on Reddish and see if the upside remains untapped. A change of scenery and a belief in his game could do wonders for Reddish and if Cleveland can make him work, he has the potential to be the answer at small forward. If it doesn’t work, it’s still a worthy gamble since it’s not like the Cavaliers are spending much anyways to acquire Reddish.

Do you think the backup big is something worth addressing at the deadline? If so, who is available that would fit this roster as it stands today? – Jordan B., via submission

I don’t think addressing a backup center is the most pressing need for the Cavaliers. But, I do think it’s something worth exploring if you can find a tangible upgrade over Robin Lopez. Perhaps Cleveland swings a trade to acquire Robert Covington in conjunction with Luke Kennard (something reader Evan M. suggested!) who sources say are available and are of varying interest to Cleveland.

Some smaller, more realistic targets could also be Toronto’s Khem Birch, Detroit’s Nerlens Noel, Sacramento’s Alex Len or Miami’s Dewayne Dedmon. All are names that have become available on the trade market and could be names worth watching for the Cavaliers as well. Mind you, some of these players could become available after their contracts are bought out by their teams as well. So, again, it’s a need worth addressing but there are other ways to explore addressing it as well.

No, I don’t think there is a trade that makes Cleveland a legitimate title threat this season. But, that’s totally fine at the end of the day! The very green Cavaliers need to get to the playoffs first and whet their whistle with experience. The postseason is a different beast compared to the regular season so it’s also a good indicator of what is and isn’t working as well. If anything, Cleveland feels like a lock to make the playoffs this year. Considering where things were two or three years ago, it’s hard to fully wrap your head around.

Ideally, Buddy Hield would address a lot of the needs the Cavaliers currently have! Unfortunately, sources say that the Indiana Pacers are looking for a first-round pick or comparable young talent for Hield. That means Isaac Okoro or nothing if you’re Cleveland and that ultimately gives me pause. Down the line, Okoro could be a better option for the Cavaliers compared to Hield and considering he’s the last-standing young trade piece, giving him up for Hield seems like a non-starter to me.

What would be your ideal trade deadline for the Cavs? – Michael Y.

Based on what I know, here’s what I would do this trade deadline if I were Cleveland:

Cleveland acquires: Josh Hart

Portland acquires: Jae Crowder, 2023 second-round selection (Via Phoenix)

Phoenix acquires: Cedi Osman, Raul Neto 2024 second-round selection (Via Golden State)

Cleveland acquires: Luke Kennard, Jason Preston, Cam Reddish

Los Angeles acquires: Caris LeVert

New York acquires: Dylan Windler, 2023 second-round pick (Via Los Angeles)

Two separate three-team deals that move a lot of things within the margins but leave the Cavaliers looking like this on February 10:

Darius Garland/Ricky Rubio/Jason Preston

Donovan Mitchell/Luke Kennard/Cam Reddish

Isaac Okoro/Josh Hart/Lamar Stevens

Evan Mobley/Dean Wade/Kevin Love

Jarrett Allen/Robin Lopez

You then explore the buyout market to find a more serviceable big man than Lopez and you’re set if you’re Cleveland at the end of the day. It would, of course, be the same starting five but now you have Kennard and Hart coming off the bench with Rubio and Wade. Perhaps Preston could be the backup point guard of the future. But, these moves would address a little bit of everything the Cavaliers still need as they shift focus to a final playoff push.

Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at evan@downeuclid.com. He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.

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