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Breaking Down the New Look Cavs

Joe Paige | Sports Editor

The biggest offseason move surprisingly wasn’t Kevin Durant like we imagined but rather another perennial all-star would shake up the balance of power in the east, Cavaliers president Koby Altman during the introductory press conference said this deal is “perhaps the biggest trade in franchise history. On September 1st Cleveland made an unexpected appearance after being very quiet in the off-season, the Cavs assembled a blockbuster package that includes guard Collin Sexton, rookie wing Ochai Agbaji, forward Lauri Markkanen, 2025, 2027, and 2029 first-round unprotected picks, and two pick swaps in 2026 and 2028 for three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. This immediately puts Cleveland in contention to come out at the top of the eastern conference, even looking forward to this Cavs roster really has the chance to truly build something special as other eastern conference teams are on the rise with their own young and talented rosters like Boston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, etc. On September 14th, during Donovan’s introductory press conference he brought up how he initially expected to get traded to his hometown in New York as his name kept NBA executives phones buzzing during the offseason. After the trade, ESPN senior writer Adrian Wojnarowski reported that New York had the assets but was hesitant to give up their more recent first round pick rising star guard Quentin Grimes, along with their franchise player RJ Barrett together in a deal for the young all-star. When their sophomore guard Immanuel Quickly was offered instead of Grimes Utah would then ask for three unprotected first round draft picks in the deal, New York would only settle for a third first round pick which would include top-five protections. Cleveland is adding a supernova of offense in Donovan Mitchell to an already mini big three starring center Jarrett Allen, guard Darius Garland, and rising star big man Evan Mobley. They showcased a preview of what all three of them are capable of in the play-in tournament last year, although they didn’t win they were still able to spark some momentum heading into this season. Another notable aspect of the trade was Cleveland didn’t have to give up too much of their depth, Markkanen’s position in the rotation can be replaced, and Collin Sexton hadn’t played a game for them last season and was arguably already headed out the door seeing as his role on the team had been taken by Garland after blossoming into the player he has become today. They still have plenty of key rotation players who’ll get meaningful minutes in the second unit, like Caris Levert and Isaac Okoro who'll be competing for the starting wing spot on the roster; and you can't forget about veteran big man Kevin Love, who although hasn’t been the most impactful player on the team the past couple years, he still provides championship experience and knowledge to a Cavs roster with one of the top 5 youngest teams in the league. Their bench depth is certainly a factor that needs improvement if they want to keep their heads above water amongst other contenders, it's possible we might even see Donovan struggle a bit adapting to a new eastern conference environment, but this is still a formidable starting five with a frontcourt capable of holding their own against anybody in the league. This Cleveland franchise has had to deal with trying to stay relevant after the departure of LeBron James for about 5 years now, we may be witnessing the beginning of a new identity being formed. With the right development and improvements it's possible you could see this Cavaliers team eventually become a real powerhouse in the east.


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