Cavs Injury Riddled Season Takes Another Victim
After the Cavs, 94-87 win over the Thunder, the team’s concern quickly shifted from the heat of battle to the availability of key offseason acquisition Lauri Markkanen. While going up for a loose ball, Markkanen lost his footing and rolled his ankle. What looked like a gruesome injury, was only an ankle sprain, and the Cavs are lucky for that.
The upcoming schedule is the easiest stretch that Cleveland will go through this year, but how will they replace Lauri’s hot hand? If GM Koby Altman stays quiet at the trade deadline, he could fill Lauri’s 7’0” void with players in-house.
Dean Wade and Lamar Stevens have been great in their limited starting roles, but with only 24 games started between them, Altman might have to look to the open market to keep this Cavs team in the hunt for a top 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The obvious fill-in for Cleveland is Caris LeVert. The 6’6” combo-guard could easily fill in a starting role for the Cavs. He’s versatile on defense and can switch between multiple positions. Also, before his most recent calf injury, LeVert was heating up from his slow start to the year, shooting nearly 40% from three over his last five games.
If the Pacers were truly set on starting a rebuild, moving LeVert shouldn’t cost the Cavs too much. Buddy Hield is going to take at least a first-round pick to move, but the cost is easily worth it. Cleveland hasn’t been consistent enough from beyond the arc, so picking up a 38% three-point shooter would be something wonderful.
Against the top competition, it feels like Garland needs some more help scoring, especially late in games. Hield is an athletic two-guard who could help with spacing for the bigs and can create his own shot. If the Cavs' plan is to trade their 2022 first-round pick, you’ll be acquiring a player that is better than just about anything you could find with a late-round pick. Make the trade if the price is right.
Can you think of a more perfect fit off of the bench? The Rockets seem somewhat reluctant to move Gordon for a cheaper deal, but if they keep waiting, they’re going to end up with nothing. With only one more year left on his deal, Gordon will never see the light of the playoffs wasting the twilight of his career in Houston. Cleveland on the other hand is ready to compete now.
Remember how I said the Cavs need some consistent shooting? Well, Gordon would be the perfect solution to that problem. To acquire Gordon, the Cavs will most likely have to use the rest of Rubio’s contract or their trade exception to make contracts match, but if they find a 45% three-point shooter for the right price, Altman will have to pull the trigger.
Unlike what Cavs Twitter will have you believe, Cleveland doesn’t need to make a move right now. This might sound like loser talk, but this squad has already overachieved. There’s no reason to blow up the future for, at best, an Eastern Conference Finals exit. If you can get one of the above players for only one first-rounder, you have to do it, if not, keep this core intact.
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