“One veteran team executive read my Sunday piece that wondered aloud about the Cavaliers pursuing a trade for Brooklyn’s Royce O’Neale and relayed that Cleveland indeed has O’Neale on its list of targets,” Stein wrote.
“Atlanta’s De’Andre Hunter is said to be another name to watch in Cleveland’s ongoing search for a 3-and-D upgrade — although absorbing Hunter’s contract (which has three seasons and $70 million left on it after this season) makes him a challenging payroll fit (and, frankly, difficult for the Hawks to trade anywhere).”
It appears that Cleveland would like to upgrade its depth on the wing ahead of this season’s trade deadline, and O’Neale may make a ton of sense for the team since he’s set to be a free agent in the upcoming offseason.
That could make O’Neale a little cheaper on the trade market, potentially helping the Cavs keep other key rotation pieces on the roster.
This season, O’Neale has appeared in 38 games for Brooklyn and is averaging 7.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He’s only shooting 38.7 percent from the field but owns a solid mark of 37.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Of O’Neale’s 6.7 field-goal attempts per game this season, 5.4 of those come from beyond the arc.
His size could be helpful for the Cavs as they try to find players that can defend wings like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and others on Eastern Conference contenders this season.
As for Hunter – the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft – a trade may be harder to execute since the Cavs would have to match the money to absorb his contract.
The Hawks forward is averaging 14.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from 3-point range in 24 games this season.
It’s unclear what the Cavs would be willing to give up to make a deal for Hunter happen.
After earning the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, the Cavs are looking to avoid the result of last season’s playoff run (a first-round exit) in the 2023-24 season.
Cleveland could add a 3-and-D player like O’Neale or Hunter to upgrade its depth at the wing spots alongside players like Max Strus, Isaac Okoro and Caris LeVert.
Cleveland is currently the No. 4 seed in the East with a 23-15 record this season.