Caris LeVert went into the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland today thinking he was an Indiana Pacer, only to find out in the locker room that he had just been traded to the up and coming Cavaliers.
For LeVert, this is a move upwards. The Cavaliers are a team that is developing way ahead of schedule, and are currently third in the Eastern Conference with a 33-21 record, which is currently the same as the defending NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks.
The shocking thing is that the Cavs basically gave nothing notable up in the trade. They traded Ricky Rubio, who was having a great season and was showing flashes of being Olympic Ricky before suffering an unfortunate ACL tear.
In return, the Cavaliers are getting someone who is averaging 18.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists, who can provide a scoring punch while Collin Sexton is out. His most recent game before the trade came in a 122-115 loss to the Chicago Bulls, where he balled out and had 42 points, five rebounds and eight assists.
It’s not that risky a trade for the Cavaliers, either. LeVert had basically the same contract as Rubio, as he’s being paid $17.5 million this season and $18.79 million next year before becoming an unrestricted free agent. His Spanish counterpart in the trade is earning $17.8 million this year before hitting free agency at the end of the season.
I feel that this is a slam dunk of a trade for the Cavaliers, who may have just sped up their chances to contend even more. In terms of risk, they basically get to see if LeVert can fit with J.B. Bickerstaff’s coaching philosophy along with the rest of the squad before seeing if they want to sign him long-term.
It also helps that LeVert has a pre-existing familiarity with Jarrett Allen, who has become an excellent player in his own right in his time with the Cavaliers. They were both part of the Nets before being moved in the James Harden trade, and it’s going to be interesting if they can rekindle the on-court chemistry they had as youngsters in Brooklyn.
Things just seem to keep getting better for the Cavaliers, and it’s going to be exciting to watch what happens to them for the rest of the season. They have a mix of rising young talent and veteran leadership, plus Kevin Love is having a resurgent season and looks like a legitimate sixth man of the year candidate.