The Cleveland Cavaliers made some big moves this offseason to improve their roster. With that in mind, should the Cavs look to make further upgrades, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley put together a group of players that should be Cleveland’s top three trade targets.
After noting concerns that the Cavs may not have adequately addressed their needs for a two-way wing player, Buckley notes that Royce O’Neale, Caleb Martin, and Josh Green are players who should be on Cleveland’s radar.
It’s possible, then, Cleveland could still be in the market for a two-way wing who finally balances this roster. The Cavs don’t have much to spend after paying a fortune for Donovan Mitchell last offseason, but they might be able to reel in a mid-tier target like O’Neale (expendable with Brooklyn’s wing depth), Martin (a potential casualty of the Miami Heat’s Damian Lillard pursuit) or Green (a likely trade candidate should the Dallas Mavericks do anything major).
It is about mid-tier targets for the Cavs. As mentioned by Buckley, Cleveland does not have a lot of draft capital to work with. This means their future assets worth less than other teams can only net a certain level of player in return. Perhaps the Cavs could be involved as a third-team facilitator in a larger trade that sees them deal from an area of redundancy on their roster to get a higher-caliber player. But that is not something anyone should be counting on.
There are not any glaring needs for the Cavs at this moment. Cleveland is in a position to add complementary players rather than stars. It is about finding the right supporting cast for the core of their roster. Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen are locks to be in the starting lineup, and finding the right combination of players to surround them with to make a deeper playoff run is absolutely necessary.
Where are Cavs guards Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell predicted to be ranked at the end of the 2023-24 season? The staff over at Bleacher Report ranked where they think the top guards will finish for the upcoming season. Both Garland and Mitchell made the list.
Coming in at 18 is Garland.
“Garland has the mechanics to become one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA and is coming off a career-high 41.0 percent mark from deep overall and 44.0 percent on catch-and-shoot looks.“
Garland showed flashes of what he could be before last season. Taking over as the main ball-handler for the Cavs after Collin Sexton went down due to a season-ending injury, Garland found a way to unlock some skills that were going overlooked. This was just a preview of what was to come as Garland looks even better when paired with Mitchell.
Speaking of Mitchell, he finds himself inside the top 10 at number nine.
“At his best, Mitchell could be the best shooting guard in the NBA this season. At his worst, he’s still in the top three to five overall as someone who can score in isolation, run the pick-and-roll or finish in transition. His combination of speed, strength and shooting is everything you can ask for in a guard, one who’s yet to hit his peak.”
Mitchell is one of the best players in the league, and his rank as a Top-10 guard is indicative of that. There is a reason why the Cavs made the move to acquire Mitchell. The soon-to-be 27-year-old showed why plenty of times in his first year in Cleveland.
Garland and Mitchell are the two most important players on the Cavs currently. If Cleveland is going to get where they want to go, it will be on these two to get things done. They have plenty of talent, and the supporting cast is improved. Big things are expected for this team in 2023-24, and the future of one of the two players mentioned here depends on it. Find a way to succeed, and Mitchell extends his stay. Fall short again, and Mitchell could be on his way out of town.
When it comes to young big men in the league, Evan Mobley is one of the best. The Cavaliers big man is entering his third season with the team and has already made quite the impression on the league. That is why it is no surprise to see Evan Mobley make the Top of Zach Buckley’s Ranking NBA Bigs Under 25 with Highest Ceilings list.
Coming in at number four is Evan Mobley. Buckley notes that Cleveland’s offense is focused on Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell while noting Mobley still can play even better with additional spacing.
“His offensive projection is harder to calculate, since he fills an ancillary in a Cleveland offense built around attacking guards Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. Many of Mobley’s scoring chances are being created for him, but even then, he has found chances to utilize his own playmaking. Get him more touches with better spacing around him, and his passing could really shine.“
A sticking point appears to be whether or not Evan Mobley will play a larger role in the offense or become a threat from outside.
“Will he ever be an offensive focal point, though? Or how about a reliable outside shooter? Those possibilities are on the table, but they are far from guaranteed. If he’s a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate who tallies 20 points, 10 boards and a handful of assists per night, the Cavs won’t be complaining, but that isn’t quite the superstar ceiling possessed by the top three players on this list.“
The top three players on the list Buckley mentioned here? Chet Holmgren, Zion Williamson, and Victor Wembanyama. Considering this is about the ceiling of players that is more than fine. With that being said, there are a few things to take into account here.
First off, Wembanyama is yet to play an actual NBA game. This also applies to Holmgren, as he missed his entire rookie season due to injury. Speaking of injuries, Zion Williamson. Zion has all the potential in the world, but he cannot stay healthy. It seems like these are a few things that should be taken into consideration when compiling a list such as this. Injuries and missed time should play a part in a player’s ceiling. Additionally, not playing a single NBA minute yet should also take a player down a spot or two.
This is not to say that Evan Mobley should be number one, even though it sounds like it. This is simply stating that the players ahead of him have some big-time “yes, buts” attached. These are the types of things that make placing certain players ahead of Evan Mobley somewhat questionable.
Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland has seen his stock rise in recent seasons. Garland originally shared time in the Cavs’ backcourt with an incompatible player in Collin Sexton. An injury to Sexton in his final season in Cleveland and his subsequent trade led to Garland playing at the level that everyone was hoping he was capable of.
Now sharing the backcourt with Donovan Mitchell, Garland is thriving, finding himself mentioned as one of the Top-10 guards under the age of 25. Just outside the Top-5 is Garland, according to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley.
“At 23 years old, Darius Garland has already established himself as one of the Association’s elite offensive initiators. He is one of only five players to average 21 points, seven assists and two three-pointers in each of the past two seasons. Garland is also in the process of upping his efficiency (career-high 58.7 true shooting percentage last season) and improving his decision-making (career-low 13.5 turnover percentage).”
The players ranked ahead of Garland are a pretty impressive group. LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Ja Morant, Anthony Edwards, and Luke Doncic make up the top five spots. Grievances can be had with Ball and Haliburton, but the top three are pretty much set in stone.
Darius Garland is still on an upward trajectory and is working on putting the finishing touches on his overall skillset. The Cavs will be a team at least in contention with Garland manning the point for the foreseeable future. Continued development from Evan Mobley will also help, in addition to the Cavs possibly working out an extension with Mitchell.
Cleveland is in good hands with Garland and should be able to make a deeper postseason as soon as this upcoming season.
Which new addition to the Cleveland Cavaliers has been considered their best new weapon? According to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, Max Strus gets that honor for the Cavs. Choosing between Strus and George Niang, Buckley ultimately settled on the former Miami Heat forward.
“Max Strus, meanwhile, has a chance to exceed the career-high 28.4 minutes he received with the Miami Heat last season. He’ll need to control his sometimes erratic shooting—his last three seasons have produced three-point percentages of 33.8, 41 and 35—to make that happen, but his form and willingness to fire makes you want to believe.“
It is going to come down to Strus being consistent from three-point range. As mentioned above, the jumps up and down in conversion percentage are not necessarily a concern currently but something to monitor during the season. Settling somewhere in the middle would go a long way for the Cavs this season.
The approach for the Cavs this past offseason was to improve three-point shooting and supporting cast. Cleveland’s addition of Strus should help in both departments. The Cavs just need Strus to be a tertiary at-best option on offense for him to be effective. Playing off Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, Strus needs to make the open threes that others were incapable of.
Even though Strus may not have the impact that other new additions do for their respective teams, Cleveland had an obvious area in need of improvement, while others were looking for any type of player to add to their roster. As long as Strus understands his role and does not try to do much, this should be an impactful addition to the Cavs.
The Cleveland Cavaliers did not find themselves making any moves this offseason, instead opting to improve their supporting cast. This led to an interesting way to describe their approach to the offseason in an article appearing in Bleacher Report. Greg Swartz chose modernized in his 1 Word to Describe Every NBA Team’s Offseason article.
“The Cavaliers should look far more modernized this year with Max Strus likely starting over Okoro and Georges Niang serving as a floor-spacing power forward next to both Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley at times. Getting Ty Jerome (38.9 percent from three, lifetime 50.9 percent three-point attempt rate) was a sneaky-good addition to the backcourt as well.“
Modernized seems to be the right word. The Cavs were not a good three-point shooting team last year, and their off-season moves were aimed at remediating that issue. This was a team that found out they lacked true depth and were not going to out-gun anyone from deep as the season came to an end. Being able to bolster their depth, relegate a player to the bench from the starting lineup, and improve their collective three-point shooting was the goal, and they appear to have accomplished exactly that.
It is about surrounding their star players with capable role players. Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell can only do so much by themselves. Jarrett Allen is a solid big man, but he is what he is. Evan Mobley appears ready to make a big-time leap in year three. Mobley ascending to true star status would take this Cavs team to a new level. Heights that did not seem attainable for this upcoming season.
This is the core of players the Cavs are counting on to carry them to be a true contender. The starting lineup was essentially in place when the year ended. Adding Max Strus should round their starting five and make things a little less congested near the basket. That added space is exactly the modernization needed for this Cavs team to make a run.
The Cleveland Cavaliers made a handful of moves this offseason to improve their roster. While none are as big as last year’s move for Donovan Mitchell, it was about improving the depth and quality of their role players. It is obvious that they accomplished what they set out to do, but is it enough to increase their win total?
Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey put together win-loss predictions for every team in the NBA following the schedule release on Thursday. Setting the over/under at 50.5, Bailey broke down the Cavaliers’ off-season and why they may struggle to equal or surpass last season’s win total.
“One year after trading for Donovan Mitchell, the Cleveland Cavaliers made more noise this summer by acquiring Max Strus and Georges Niang. In theory, those two will improve upon the Cavs’ shooting and provide a little stability on the wing. Last season, small forward was about the only position that didn’t feel rock solid. So, why the slight step back from 51 wins in 2022-23 and a prediction that they’ll go under in 2023-24? For one thing, the East figures to be stout again. And it’s not hard to imagine improvements in the win column from the Miami Heat (who won 44 games in 2022-23), New York Knicks (47) and Atlanta Hawks (41), to name a few. Strus might not be the upgrade over Cedi Osman some perceive him to be either. The loss of Ricky Rubio (who has “decided to stop my professional activity to take care of my mental health”) and a lack of depth at center could hurt the bench too. That doesn’t make this under a lock, of course. Cleveland was plus-10.2 points per 100 possessions when Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen were on the floor in 2022-23. Both Garland and Mobley could be better next season. It just feels like 2023-24’s 50-win club is going to be exclusive, and that necessitated some tough cuts.“
These are all very valid points, especially the unknown status of Ricky Rubio. But when it comes to Max Strus not being the upgrade over Cedi Osman many expect, he could not be further off. This is less about Strus and more about Osman. Osman is an incredibly frustrating player to watch. There can be the occasional 20-30 seconds of outstanding plays from Osman, but they are more often than not surrounded by 3-5 minutes of missing wide-open shots and attempting to play at a level he is not capable of. Even if there was no direct replacement for Osman, removing him from the equation is a step forward in itself.
Honestly, the projected win total for the Cavs seems mostly rooted in having certain teams already exceeding the 50-win threshold and coming back to the others to fill everything else in. Considering other teams and their improvements were mentioned in the Cavaliers portion while overlooking their own moves certainly points towards that being the case.
Cavaliers predicted record: 48-34
There was a connection or two between the Cleveland Cavaliers and restricted free agent PJ Washington, but that now appears to be off the table. The expectation is that Washington will accept his qualifying offer and return to the Charlotte Hornets. This comes just a few days after the Cavs were mentioned as having expressed interest in the restricted free agent.
Making this work from Cleveland’s end was always going to be a bit of an obstacle. Washington would have to agree to a deal that would somewhat satisfy what he was looking for but could also fit into the Cavs’ current financial situation. The possibility of a sign-and-trade between Cleveland and Charlotte was possible. Although the Hornets may not have interest in the players Cleveland would have been willing to part with.
The reality is that PJ Washington does not fit with the current version of the Cavs. Cleveland’s route this past offseason was to add complementary players. Signing Max Strus and Georges Niang to deals that should bolster their overall roster depth. Perhaps next season, when Washington is an unrestricted free agent and after a potential trade of a certain big man, it might be able to work. But for now, Washington returning to the Hornets for this season is in his best interest. All he has to do is play well enough, and he will be able to sign that big-time free-agent contract he was looking for this summer.
Could the Cleveland Cavaliers send Caris LeVert to the Los Angeles Lakers? This possibility was proposed in a mock trade appearing on NBA Analysis Network.
The deal would have the Cavs trading LeVert and second-round picks in 2024 and 2025 to the Lakers. Coming back to Cleveland would be Rui Hachimura. The focus, in the eyes of the author, is to improve their wing situation.
“What the Cavaliers need is 3-and-D wings. They could afford to sacrifice some of LeVert’s shot creation to add some defense on the wings. Is that what they’re doing here? It’s debatable. Hachimura isn’t a lockdown defender. With that said, he’s solid, and he’s got the athletic profile to improve.”
This is a significantly better proposal for the Cavs than the previously suggested deal involving Jarrett Allen. While the logic of moving Evan Mobley to the center position is valid, adding Hachimura without trading any other guards or forwards would not make much sense. Other deals would be required to make that version of the roster fit.
It is mentioned that the Cavs do not necessarily need the shot-creation that Caris LeVert provides. The primary options in that aspect are Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, and that is not expected to change any time soon. While this is true, the unknown status of Ricky Rubio at this time makes things a bit murky. Should Rubio extend his period of stepping away from basketball into the regular season, they will need someone to be the primary ballhandler off the bench. LeVert is more than capable of doing that over short stretches.
Is this a deal the Cavs should consider if offered? Yes. But only under the provision that they have someone on their roster capable of keeping the offense going while Garland and Mitchell get some rest. It could be Rubio or someone else entirely. Getting a clearer picture in that regard would make a hypothetical trade involving LeVert a bit more feasible.
Ezekiel Elliott has a new home and will join the New England Patriots. The former Dallas Cowboy has agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $6 million. Elliott is expected to sign the deal in New England before boarding a plane to join the team in Green Bay. The Patriots have joint practices with the Packers ahead of their preseason matchup later this week.
While Ezekiel Elliott’s effectiveness has decreased in recent seasons, New England will use him in a different capacity. Third-year back Rhamondre Stevenson should continue to get the bulk of the carries for the Patriots. Elliott should be able to provide production in a complementary role behind him. The Patriots do not need him to be a star, only a cog in a much larger machine.
The Patriots have a way of getting the most out of players who fall out of favor with their previous team. It would not be surprising to see Ezekiel Elliott carve out a meaningful role and show that his career is not over.
Ezekiel Elliott was originally a first-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2016 NFL Draft. Elliott rushed for 8,262 yards and 68 touchdowns in his seven years as a Cowboy. The emergence of Tony Pollard made Elliott expendable in the eyes of the Cowboys. If things go well in New England, Elliott can rebuild his value and look for a new deal next off-season. If not, it may be hard to find work in the future, considering how long it took this deal to develop.