Bleacher Report’s NBA insider Eric Pincus expects the Cleveland Cavaliers to wait on a long-term extension for former first-round pick Isaac Okoro.
Pincus compared Okoro – who was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft – and his situation to that of Portland Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little.
“Little took a team-friendly deal because he hadn’t proved himself yet, but Portland still believed he was worth the investment (at the price),” Pincus wrote. “Do the Cavaliers feel the same with Okoro? Look for both sides to wait this one out.”
Okoro is entering the final season of his rookie deal in the 2023-24 campaign, and he will become a restricted free agent next offseason if the Cavs can’t agree to an extension with him by the deadline in late October.
During the 2022-23 season, Okoro averaged 6.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from beyond the arc. He shot his highest percentage of his career from beyond the arc, and he’s been one of Cleveland’s best wing defenders.
However, the Cavs added sharpshooter Max Strus this offseason in a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat. They also added a solid shooting forward in Georges Niang in free agency and re-signed wing Caris LeVert.
It’s possible that those moves cut into Okoro’s playing time, even though Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens (two other wings) were shipped out of Cleveland in the deal for Strus.
Okoro should still have a role in the rotation, but the Cavs have to be careful about how much money they are willing to pay him after giving deals to LeVert, Strus and Niang.
The team still has to worry about an extension for star forward Evan Mobley down the line, and Cleveland may not want to commit too much financially to a player like Okoro who could be replaced in the rotation with another wing.
In the playoffs last season, Okoro was removed from the starting lineup and only played 15.0 minutes per game in the series against the New York Knicks. He shot just 30.8 percent from deep in the series, which was a reason why Cleveland opted for other options on the wing in the playoffs.
Okoro can still be an effective player for the Cavs, but the team may not want to commit to him long term unless it is on a team-friendly deal.