Three Mock Trades the Cleveland Cavaliers Can Make This Offseason
The Cleveland Cavaliers just completed their best season in four years, going 44-38 in a highly-competitive Eastern Conference. But with no playoff berth to show for it, the Cavs have some work to do over the offseason.
Cleveland’s roster isn’t in need of a major overhaul. With All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen along with Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley, the Cavaliers possess a talented young core capable of elevating them to great heights. All they need are a few minor tweaks to put them over the top.
The Cavaliers have an exciting offseason ahead between the draft and free agency. Here are a few trade ideas to consider as well.
Adding a Proven Scorer
Cavaliers receive: Terrence Ross
Magic receive: Cedi Osman, Dylan Windler, 2024 2nd Round Pick
Cleveland acquired Caris LeVert before the deadline, but the 27-year-old only averaged 13.6 points with his new team. For reference, that’s the fewest points he’s averaged since 2017-18, his second year in the NBA.
LeVert will be back with the Cavs in 2022-23 and should improve as a whole. But they’re going to need even more scoring help to improve an offense that finished 20th at season’s end. Enter Terrence Ross.
Ross didn’t earn the nickname “Human Torch” for any reason. The 10-year vet has a knack for providing instant offense as a sixth man. He averaged 10.0 points in 23.0 minutes this season but scored a career-best 15.6 points in 29.3 minutes in 2020-21.
The 31-year-old forward is entering the final year of his deal with Orlando, a team fully committed to a youth movement. In order to match salaries, the Cavs can send Cedi Osman and former first-rounder Dylan Windler to the Magic along with a future draft pick.
Between Ross and LeVert, Cleveland should have a nice scoring boost for its second unit.
Finding a Home for Kevin Love
Cavaliers receive: Duncan Robinson, P.J. Tucker, Haywood Highsmith
Heat receive: Kevin Love
Given the changes to Cleveland’s roster over the years, it’s fairly remarkable that Kevin Love is still on the roster. That said, the Cavs have to be looking for a way to part ways.
To Love’s credit, 2021-22 was his best season in quite some time. The 33-year-old averaged 13.6 points in 22.5 minutes per game while shooting his best clip from three (39.2%) in four years. But he is hardly worth his team-leading $28.9 million cap hit.
Finding a home for Love won’t be easy, but one option could be the Miami Heat. The Eastern Conference finalists would love (no pun intended) to trade Duncan Robinson, the sharpshooting forward who lost his spot in the rotation in the first year of his five-year, $90 million extension. With Miami needing to clear space for a Tyler Herro extension, trading Robinson is a must.
Miami would likely prefer one year of Love versus four more years of Robinson. But it would cost them additional pieces to make salaries match, particularly P.J. Tucker and a benchwarmer like Haywood Highsmith. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers would get one of the NBA’s most feared three-point shooters and a championship-winning veteran.
Considering how both of these teams have undesirable contracts, this deal is as close to a win-win as you’re going to get.
Going All-In for an All-Star
Cavaliers receive: Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neal
Jazz receive: Collin Sexton, Lauri Markannen, Isaac Okoro, 2024 and 2026 1st Round Picks, 2025 2nd Round Pick (via MIL)
The Cavaliers have two All-Stars and a future star in their starting lineup as is. On paper, the need for a “superstar” isn’t obvious. But they’d be foolish to not inquire about Donovan Mitchell.
Following another early playoff exit, the Utah Jazz are a team searching for answers. Their on-court disappointment mixed with off-court drama has the league convinced that a rebuild is on the horizon. If that’s the case, All-Star center Rudy Gobert and the superstar scorer Mitchell could both be shipped out of town this summer.
While Gobert isn’t needed in Cleveland, Mitchell would be a dream come true. The 25-year-old has averaged 23.9 points across five seasons in Utah, proving he can be the top scorer on a contending club.
Mitchell is under team control for the next three seasons before a player option for 2025-26. In order to match his $30.3 million salary next season, Cleveland would have to part with Sexton (who Utah would add in a sign-and-trade), Markannen, and 21-year-old Isaac Okoro. The Jazz can also throw in veteran forward Royce O’Neal while Cleveland parts with three draft picks.
Cleveland could theoretically pull off all of these deals. If so, they’d have a backcourt of Garland and Mitchell, Robinson at the 3, Mobley and Allen down low, and LeVert, Ross, and O’Neale off of the bench. That’s a serious contender for a Cavs team hungry for a postseason reunion.
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