Report: Cavs interested in pursuing 3-and-D upgrades

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly are looking to add a 3-and-D player in an effort to produce a better playoff performance than they authored in a first-round exit last season.

“Support for the idea that the Cavaliers want to play this season out before contemplating major roster changes stems from what league sources describe as Cleveland’s desire to upgrade its wing options before next month’s trade buzzer,” wrote Marc Stein. “Turner Sports’ Chris Haynes mentioned Cleveland’s interest in pursuing 3-and-D targets on a recent edition of our #thisleague UNCUT podcast and I’ve heard the same. Any such trade would naturally be classified as a win-now move for the Cavaliers, who are desperate to make a stronger postseason impression than we saw last spring, when they followed up a 51-win campaign with a meek five-game exit to New York in the first round of the playoffs.”

The Cavs are thought to possibly be at a crossroads with the long-term future of Donovan Mitchell remaining in doubt due to the fact he has yet to sign a contract extension with the franchise. But the organization seems to be all in on this season with members of the front office dismissive of the idea they are looking to trade the 27-year-old All-Star, even though a team like the Miami Heat reportedly has bona fide interest in him.

Despite playing stretches without Mitchell, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley because of illness and injuries, the Cavs have fashioned a 21-15 record so far this season. Cleveland is entering NBA play Wednesday holding the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Last season, the Cavs were the No. 4 seed in the East after a 51-win regular season. However, they were quickly eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Knicks, who were the No. 5 seed.

One of the better 3-and-D players who could have been on the market heading into the NBA trade deadline next month has already moved on, with the Toronto Raptors trading O.G. Anunoby to the Knicks. New York is 5-0 with Anunoby in its lineup and has risen to the No. 4 seed in the East, one half game ahead of three teams including the Cavaliers entering Wednesday.

The Cavs added Max Strus and Georges Niang this past offseason in an effort to bolster an offense that came up short against the Knicks in the playoffs. They also were able to select Emoni Bates in the 2023 NBA Draft and could turn to him for a boost after his latest standout performance in the G League.

The Cavaliers next play against the Brooklyn Nets in Paris on Thursday.

The Cavs have not advanced as far as the second round of the playoffs since 2018, when they made their fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. Putting together a successful playoff run this season arguably would be more valuable to the franchise than any move it could make toward the future by trading Mitchell.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.