The Cleveland Cavaliers emerged from the dust, the same team after what turned out to be a crazy trade deadline. The Cavaliers didn’t make any moves, preferring to maintain with the team they have currently. The only moves left to make are in the buyout market. Kevin Love’s name has been brought up but the Cavs are in no hurry in that regard.
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The Cavs are actually in a better position now then they were a few days ago despite not making any moves at the trade deadline, not even trading Caris LeVert who has been considered a hot commodity lately. The Brooklyn Nets blew up their roster and are starting their rebuild which was one of the Cavaliers main obstacles in the Eastern Conference.
The fourth seed is all but locked up with the Nets out of the way. There is potential to overtake the third seed from the Philadelphia 76ers who were relatively inactive at the deadline as well. The Sixers acquired Jalen McDaniels from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Matisse Thybulle, both names that don’t move the needle dramatically.
That’s great news for the Cavaliers, who have had some issues on the road this season and want as many home playoff games as possible. The only really significant addition in the East was the Toronto Raptors grabbing Jakob Poeltl, but the Raptors are also 8.5 games behind the Cavaliers and barring a collapse shouldn’t be much of a threat.
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Perhaps the Cavaliers felt they didn’t need to make a trade because of how good Isaac Okoro has been recently. Okoro played about as well as you could ever hope for this past month and a half, excelling as a starting caliber three-and-D wing filling the one hole the Cavaliers had.
You can’t deny how well Okoro is playing right now but the Cavs should remain cautious about how well he will play when lights are brightest in the playoffs. The Cavaliers starting lineup is more or less complete with Okoro emerging in his current role.
Bench scoring has been an issue with Love’s decline, but if Dean Wade, Ricky Rubio and the former Bruin can all round into form after injuries then they form a solid bench along with LeVert and Cedi Osman.
The buyout market is always an option, but it’s hard to guess who will be available. Terrence Ross, Will Barton and Danny Green are all wings that can hit from outside if the Cavs still want one. Those three players are all on the wrong end of thirty, one’s coming off an ACL tear and they aren’t seeing minutes despite being ideal role players for a reason.
The Cavs don’t seem particularly enamored with Robin Lopez despite his advanced wit, which means they could be in the market for a backup center. The market there seems extra thin though with only Serge Ibaka basically guaranteed to be available, while players like Nerlens Noel are more speculative.
The Cavs will be fine even if they don’t make any moves. The team has been remarkably still this season and it’s been working. The trade for Donovan Mitchell accelerated the Cavaliers timeline to contend and this team is still so young that there really isn’t any need for panic moves.
LeVert and Love’s contracts come off the books next year and this year the Cavaliers seem all but locked in for a top-four seed, potentially having an opportunity to compete for a NBA championship. What will benefit this team the most really isn’t some random player off the buyout market that won’t contribute much to begin with, but to get the younger guys playoff-ready and battle-tested for the years to come when the Cavs are ready to really go for it all.
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