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Cleveland Cavaliers President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman has almost always been aggressive as a decision-maker. It’s a rarity that a transactional period passes with the Cavaliers not making a deal of some sort.
That’s what made it such a surprise to see the Cavs sit out the trade deadline back in February. That’s also why it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the organization trade into the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday night.
The opportunity to do so is there. In this draft, there are seven teams that have multiple first-round picks, Utah, both of which has three selections. Some teams, like Orlando, which has two picks in the lottery could be attempting to trade up higher by packaging both its picks together, while others could be looking to turn those picks into something else in future drafts or current rotation players.
If the Cavs want to trade into the first round, here are the five places that make sense:
This is the only team on this list that doesn’t have multiple first round picks. The Mavericks own the 10th selection in the draft, and have a pressing need for a center. This would be by far the most aggressive trade the Cavs could make to jump into the first round. The framework of this deal would have to be something such as Jarrett Allen and Cedi Osman for Tim Hardaway Jr., JaVale McGee, and the 10th pick.
The Cavs have publicly talked about still believing in their “Core Four” players of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Allen. But if one of them were to be dealt, it’s hard to envision it being someone other than Allen right now.
The Cavs and Jazz certainly have some familiarity between the two front offices. Last September, the two teams made a massive trade that landed Donovan Mitchell in Cleveland. Prior to that the Cavs have made trades with Utah sending Jordan Clarkson and Kyle Korver out west as well as one that brought George Hill and Rodney Hood to Cleveland in 2018.
It’s difficult to imagine the Cavs being able to pry the No. 9 pick away from Utah, but the 16th or 28th pick certainly could be in play, depending on what the Jazz are looking for. Would sending Dean Wade or Cedi Osman to Utah be enough to bring back a late first-round pick? It’s possible.
The Blazers are the team that’s been mentioned most, specifically by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst earlier this week, as a team the Cavs could be doing business with. Portland has two picks in the first round, with the focus for the Cavs being the No. 23 overall selection.
As things stand right now, the Blazers seem intent to attempt to build a contender around Damian Lillard instead of trading him and triggering a full-on rebuild. What would it take to land pick No. 23? Possibly Wade, Osman, and something else for that pick and Nassir Little?
The Pacers were a more appealing option for the Cavs to trade with prior to their deal with the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday afternoon. That trade, according to ESPN, sent the 29th and 32nd pick in Thursday’s draft to Denver in exchange for a future first-round pick from the Nuggets.
After this deal, the Pacers still own two picks in the first round on Thursday, including the 26th pick that was originally Cleveland’s (sent to Indiana to complete the Caris LeVert trade). Could there be a move worked out to send that back to Cleveland? It’s not crazy to think so.
The Brooklyn Nets own the 21st and 22nd picks in Thursday night’s draft and it’s easy to envision them parting ways with one of them, particularly the latter one.
The Cavs and Nets have been part of some deals in the past, but Brooklyn making decisions as to how they want to approach draft night could determine if the Cavs have the ability to trade into this slot.