The Cavaliers and Pacers began to engage in exploratory discussions about Caris LeVert shortly after Ricky Rubio tore his ACL, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who notes that the Cavs’ deadline priorities likely would’ve looked different if Rubio’s injury hadn’t occurred.
Before officially acquiring LeVert, the Cavaliers looked into a series of other options, per Fedor, inquiring on Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo, Rockets guard Eric Gordon, Spurs guard Derrick White, Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield, and Magic wings Terrence Ross and Gary Harris.
Cleveland didn’t move forward on any of those players for a variety of reasons. For instance, the Bucks didn’t want to help a team they might have to face in the playoffs, while the Cavs didn’t want to part with a first-round pick for Gordon or with a combination of picks and young players for White, says Fedor.
Ultimately, the Cavs decided LeVert was the right fit at the right price, satisfying their goal of improving in the short term without losing sight of their long-term goals. LeVert is only under contract through 2022/23 for now, but if things go well in Cleveland, he could become the next piece of the team’s core, Fedor writes.
Here’s more on the Cavs:
- Sources tell Fedor that the Cavaliers will continue to seek upgrades around the margins in advance of Thursday’s trade deadline. Cleveland controls San Antonio’s 2022 second-rounder and would prefer to keep it, but that pick has drawn plenty of interest, says Fedor.
- The Pacers expressed interest in Isaac Okoro during their negotiations with the Cavaliers, but Cleveland didn’t want to part with the former lottery pick, sources tell Fedor. The Cavs’ willingness to include Houston’s 2022 second-rounder in their package helped bring the deal across the finish line, since that pick was viewed as something close to a first-rounder.
- Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff praised head of basketball operations Koby Altman for the moves he has made to help turn the Cavs around, as Fedor relays. “When you look at the deals that he’s made, he has made us much better basketball team through his aggressiveness and seeking value where others may not see, but having the idea of how this one impacts the next,” Bickerstaff said. “The proof is there. You look at guys like Jarrett (Allen) and what he’s been able to do for this team and that’s a credit to Koby for making sure we got involved in what Brooklyn was trying to do. It wasn’t just Koby being singularly focused on something. He put himself in position with other teams as well and that speaks to the communication, his reputation, and being able to have those conversations with other teams.”
- Sam Vecenie of The Athletic and John Hollinger of The Athletic view the LeVert trade as a win-win for the Cavaliers and Pacers, since Cleveland looks like an ideal fit for the swingman and Indiana got a good return for him.
- The first-round pick the Cavaliers traded to Indiana in the deal is top-14 protected in 2022 and again in 2023, per RealGM. In the unlikely event that the pick lands in the lottery both years, the Pacers would instead receive Cleveland’s 2025 second-round pick and the Lakers’ 2026 second-rounder.