Report: Cavs among teams expressing ‘strong interest’ in Josh Hart

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly have expressed “strong” trade interest in Portland Trail Blazers wing Josh Hart ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline.

“The Cavaliers are among the teams expressing strong trade interest in Portland’s Josh Hart, league sources say,” NBA insider Marc Stein wrote. “Hart has joined the likes of Denver’s Bones Hyland, New York’s Cam Reddish, various veterans in Utah and the [Los Angeles] Clippers’ John Wall on the Most Likely To Be Traded list at this deadline.”

Hart could become an unrestricted free agent following the 2022-23 season. He has a player option for the 2023-24 campaign, but he could opt out to hit free agency.

The Blazers are on a three-game winning streak to get back to .500 on the season, but Portland may look to recoup something for Hart at the deadline given its current spot in the standings.

Portland is the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference, and it doesn’t look like a true title contender despite Damian Lillard playing at a high level this season.

Trading Hart could net Portland a draft asset or a player that is under contract beyond this season to help it build around Lillard.

This season, Hart is averaging 9.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game while shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from beyond the arc. Hart does it all, and he’s a terrific rebounder for his size.

It’s unclear what Cleveland would be willing to trade for Hart, but he’d be a solid fit on the wing alongside Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. Hart has experience playing with smaller guards in Portland (Lillard and Anfernee Simons).

A first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Hart has bounced around a bit early in his NBA career. He began his career with the Los Angeles Lakers but was dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans in the Anthony Davis trade.

Eventually Hart was dealt to the Blazers in the trade that sent C.J. McCollum to the Pelicans.

Even though he’s been traded a few times, Hart has been a steady contributor throughout his NBA career. If the Cavs think he upgrades their rotation, it may be worth trading for him for the stretch run in the 2022-23 season.

Cleveland is currently the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and could make a leap if the Brooklyn Nets (No. 4) end up trading Kyrie Irving this season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.