Cavaliers ‘Expected to Pursue’ Pair of Nets Wings This Summer: Report

Dorian Finney-Smith Brooklyn Nets

Getty Dorian Finney-Smith of the Brooklyn Nets.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers decided against making any trades before February’s deadline, it was a bet that the roster as presently constructed could handle the pressure cooker of an NBA postseason.

Now, with the Cavs on the brink of a round one elimination to the New York Knicks, the front office is expected to test the free agency and trade waters. According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Cleveland is one of several teams that will look to bring in an upgrade on the wing.

Two names that Scotto included in the report are Nets‘ Dorian Finny-Smith and Royce O’Neale

“While many rival executives around the league are convinced Bridges isn’t going anywhere, there’s a belief the Nets could break up their surplus of wing depth and trade either Finney-Smith or O’Neale. Various teams around the league, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, are expected to pursue potential 3-and-D wings this summer,” Scotto wrote on April 23.

In the months since the deadline, Cleveland’s wager against tinkering with the roster seemed to pay off. The Cavs finished as one of only three franchises with a top-ten offense and defense en route to the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2018.

But the Knicks have exposed Cleveland’s fragility through four playoff games, with Isaac Okoro coming under some scrutiny for especially lackluster play.

Isaac Okoro’s Cavs Future Under Scrutiny

It comes as little surprise the Cavs are eyeing a wing upgrade. In a league dominated by three-and-D specialists, Cleveland is conspicuously light at the position.

Okoro, the team’s starting swingman, is a strong defender but his 36% on 2.3 attempts from deep this season leaves much to be desired. The Knicks have rendered him impotent on offense, regularly willing to shade off of him to double team the likes of Donovan Mitchell or Darius Garland.

And according to an Eastern Conference GM, the Cavs are closely monitoring Okoro’s future.

“They are not at a point where they are going to trade (Isaac) Okoro, but they need to figure out what he is for them,” the GM told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney recently. “If there is an opportunity to move him, I don’t think they would mind trying. But they probably give him another year to figure things out.”

Okoro’s performances have been so sloppy during the playoffs that the former Auburn Tiger has actually lost his spot among the starting five, with JB Bickerstaff trotting out Caris LeVert in his place on Sunday.

But though LeVert provides streaky offense, his defense is woeful at times; LeVert posted a minus-11 net rating on Sunday. After him, Bickerstaff has gone to a carousel of Danny Green and Cedi Osman, neither of whom have been particularly effective against New York.

Cavs Hunting for a Veteran Option: Sources

The same GM that spoke with Deveney also noted the need for a veteran presence at the wing. Outside of Mitchell, this year’s playoff run marks the debut most of the starters.

“I think the assumption is that he is going back but also, they need to get more out of that second unit. They need another guy, a veteran who can score,” the GM said. “A guy who makes a lot of sense is Kendrick Nunn, you can probably sign him for almost nothing and he showed a little bit when he was in Washington that he can still get buckets. I’d like him there for them.”

The price will have to be right for Cleveland, which is empty of significant draft capital after the Mitchell trade. Scotto mentioned that O’Neale and Finney-Smith both commanded at least one first-round pick in negotiations in February, leaving the Cavs to potentially be forced to get along with the likes of Nunn on a veteran minimum salary.

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