3 Trade Targets for Cavs to Pursue at 2022 Deadline
It's hard to say precisely at which point a hot start by an NBA team becomes a full-fledged transformation.
This much seems certain, though: Wherever that point is, it's clearly in the Cleveland Cavaliers' rearview mirror.
Fresh off Wednesday night's double-digit defeat of the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, the Cavaliers are holding down the East's No. 3 spot more than halfway through the 2021-22 season. Anyone still waiting on Cleveland to regress to the mean should understand that at this point, this is simply the club's new normal.
The goalposts have officially moved, and things that may have seemed impossible mere months ago are suddenly within striking distance. The Cavaliers could treat that as a reason to get aggressive this trade season, and if they do, the following three trade targets should be firmly on the radar.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
It's somehow easy to forget this, but the Cavaliers, who have eight wins to show for their past nine games, are shorthanded.
Knee injuries robbed both Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio of the remainder of their years, which stripped away scoring, shot-creation and point-of-attack defense from this backcourt.
Cleveland could address all three areas by freeing 33-year-old Eric Gordon from the rebuilding wreckage down in Houston. The Cavaliers are reportedly "[keeping] tabs on Gordon," per HoopsHype's Michael Scotto.
At this stage of his career, Gordon shines brightest as a knock-down sniper (44.5 percent), but that alone would be helpful to have to pull attention away from Darius Garland. But Gordon remains plenty frisky on the defensive end, and he's still capable of finding clean looks for his teammates.
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
The Cavaliers can dare to dream as big as their trade budget allows. They are already ahead of schedule, so they don't need to make a move by the deadline, but they could target major upgrades in hopes of ascending to even greater heights.
If Cleveland is feeling bold, then a call to the Big Easy about Brandon Ingram should be the first place to start.
An alpha scoring wing could take Cleveland next-level, and that's Ingram in a nutshell. His 22.4 points per game would easily pace the Cavs, and it's actually his lowest scoring output in the last three years. His 5.2 assists would also rank second on the team (third if you count the injured Rubio), meaning Ingram's arrival would instantly make Garland's life easier on offense.
Equally important, the 24-year-old Ingram is the perfect age to grow with the rest of this nucleus. If the (still Zion Williamson-less) Pelicans are anything but 100 percent committed to Ingram, the Cavs should make an aggressive offer and seriously consider any deal that doesn't cost them Garland, Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen.
Caris LeVert, Indiana Pacers
If you've noticed a trend in these targets, you're on to something.
Caris LeVert continues the string of offensive-minded wings, which is the obvious spot for this front office to prioritize. Cleveland's third-ranked defense, per NBA.com, is ready to contend right now, while its 15th-ranked offense might be one player away from meeting that threshold.
LeVert, who Scotto reported is also on the radar, could slide into the starting shooting guard spot vacated by the injured Sexton and instantly start relieving Garland of some of his offensive burden. LeVert is a scorer, shot-maker and secondary creator, meaning he could serve as a second option with Garland or be the offense's focal point without him.
Indiana's failure to gain any traction this season should make the club receptive to trade offers. At a realistic trade cost—Scotto said the Pacers are seeking a first-round pick and a young player—LeVert could give Cleveland a big lift without breaking the budget.