The Cleveland Cavaliers were one of just two teams across the league that didn’t make any trades before last month’s deadline. It’s not that Cleveland didn’t need any help, but rather a gamble on the current roster of talent to make a playoff run.
By and large, that’s a relatively safe bet. The Cavaliers are one of just three teams that rank in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Their net efficiency isn’t far off from that of the Milwaukee Bucks, a team favored to win the East and cruising to a 19-2 record over its last 21 games.
But if there is a weakness, it’s at the wing. Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade, and Cedi Osman all make up a revolving door of options, none of which are quite good enough to start, leaving the Cavs weak at one of the league’s most important positions.
Recently, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report put together a list of “wish list” trades that NBA teams probably would like to make now if they could. And unsurprisingly for the Cavaliers, Buckley’s proposed deal lands Cleveland solid wing depth in former Golden State Warriors wing Kelly Oubre, Jr.
Here’s what Buckley proposed:
The Trade: Isaac Okoro and two second-round picks to Charlotte Hornets for Kelly Oubre Jr.
“The Cavs find themselves hovering somewhere between good and very good, but they need a two-way wing to make that final jump to great,” Buckley wrote. “Could Oubre be that wing? Considering him the missing piece of a championship puzzle feels risky, but given Cleveland’s limited trade budget after the Donovan Mitchell deal, this could be the club’s best hope.”
It’s not the first time Oubre’s name has been linked to the Cavaliers this year.
Cavs Were Interested in Oubre Before the Deadline
Back in January, the Cavaliers were one of several teams interested in acquiring Oubre‘s services, as reported by veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein.
“Cleveland, Phoenix and Toronto had been circulating as teams that had trade interest in the Hornets’ Kelly Oubre Jr. until Oubre was forced to undergo left hand surgery this week expected to sideline him for four-to-six weeks.”
Crucially, the reported interest came along before Oubre underwent successful surgery for a torn ligament in his left hand.
Whether Oubre would solve all of Cleveland’s problems is a big question mark.
The Cavs could use another reliable deep threat, but Oubre is shooting just 32.6% from three this season. And that’s not exactly an anomaly: his career rate from deep is 33.1%.
While Buckley qualified Cleveland’s proposed interest in Oubre as dependent on the former getting “average” shooting from the latter, there’s little indication that this coaching staff is capable of developing shooting.
We need to look no further than internally as proof.
Isaac Okoro’s Shooting Woes Plague Cavs
For much of this season, Isaac Okoro’s name has been found alongside phrases like “rough spell” or “showing progress in his third year.” It’s hardly the bastion of consistency that Cleveland currently needs on the wing.
Over his last ten games, Okoro’s shooting is at 37% from three and 51.9% from the field. A nice showing that suggests improvement from the former Auburn Tiger.
But come playoff time, opposing defenses won’t take that stroke seriously. It’s already happening now against quality teams; defenses shade from Okoro, almost daring him to shoot. That leaves folks like Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland to work through double teams.
Okoro’s ho-hum play is fine for now, but he stands as a real question mark with the postseason looming.