The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly didn’t trade into the first round in the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday for multiple reasons.
According to Right Down Euclid’s Evan Dammarell, Cleveland spoke with multiple teams about moving into the first round, but the talent on the board wasn’t worth the team taking on long-term salary in a deal.
Instead, the Cavs held onto their second-round pick at No. 49, selecting Eastern Michigan University forward Emoni Bates.
“Despite all the endless trade speculation, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a relatively quiet evening in the 2023 NBA Draft,” Dammarell wrote. “Multiple sources have confirmed with Right Down Euclid that the Cavaliers were interested in trading back into the first round with teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, the Brooklyn Nets and the Utah Jazz. But those same sources said a combination of taking on long-term salary and the pool of players available at each pick made the juice not entirely worth the squeeze for Cleveland.”
Bates was once considered one of the best high school players in the country, but he didn’t produce immediately at the collegiate level in the way that many expected. Still, he did have a strong season at Eastern Michigan in the 2022-23 campaign.
The young forward averaged 19.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 40.5 percent from the field and 33.0 percent from beyond the arc.
He has the upside to potentially earn a spot in Cleveland’s rotation, and he comes with a far less financial burden than a first-round selection would have.
The Cavs will now turn their focus to the free agency portion of the offseason to truly make improvements to the team’s roster. Cleveland made the playoffs in the 2022-23 season, but it was knocked out in the first round by the New York Knicks.
It makes sense that the Cavs weren’t willing to part ways with assets to move up in the draft if they weren’t sold on any of the players available in the range where they would have traded into.
Cleveland has a lot of financial commitments already on the roster among Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley – who will be due a major extension once his rookie deal is up.
Cleveland’s decision to stand pat and take a high-upside player like Bates could end up paying dividends considering his pedigree prior to his college career. Either way, the Cavs will have to make some noise in free agency or the trade market to bring in some new and improved talent for the 2023-24 season.