The NBA Finals tip off this week and Cleveland Cavaliers fans may experience nostalgia for the team’s brief era of perennial championship contention. The Cavs finished eighth in the Eastern Conference in 2022 but failed to emerge from the four-team play-in tournament field to claim one of the final two postseason spots.
Still, the Cavs appear on the rise, and with a shrewd offseason acquisition or two, they’ll be in business in 2022-23. Reinforcements can come in the form of free agency signings, trade acquisitions, and draft picks. The promise of future playoff basketball leads us to consider the 5 best Cleveland Cavaliers offseason acquisitions in franchise history.
For this exercise, we’re focused specifically on trade and free agent acquisitions. The best part is, Ohio sports betting will launch during the 2022-23 NBA season, so placing wagers on the Cavs will be possible in the near future.
5 Best Cleveland Cavaliers Offseason Acquisitions
5. Aug. 28, 2021: Cavaliers Acquire Power Forward Lauri Markkanen
Markkanen, 25, is a 7-footer who has demonstrated some long-range marksmanship and ability on the glass. His first season in Cleveland was relatively modest: 14.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 44.5% shooting from the field. However, he’s still young enough to serve as an important piece to a legitimate playoff team in 2022-23.
When can we wager?: Ohio Casino Control Commission announces launch date will be Jan. 1, 2023
4. May 17, 1974: Cavaliers Trade For Center Jim Chones
Chones and the Cavs didn’t experience immediate success following the trade. However, Chones played an integral role in the franchise’s three straight trips to the postseason from the 1975-76 season through the 1977-78 campaign. He played five seasons with the Cavaliers and averaged 14.3 points and 9.5 rebounds across 400 games.
3. Sept. 2, 2015: Cavaliers Sign Shooting Guard J.R. Smith To Long-Term Deal
The Cavs acquired shooting guards J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from the New York Knicks in a January 2015 trade. They signed both to long-term deals in the ensuing offseason. Shumpert delivered limited statistical contributions, but his size, athleticism, and versatility added valuable depth to the second unit. Smith, however, played a vital role in the Cavs’ 2016 NBA Championship run. He averaged 11.5 points and scored in double-figures in the final five games of the NBA Finals.
2. Aug. 23, 2014: Cavaliers Acquire Power Forward Kevin Love Via Trade
When the Cavs brought LeBron James back to Cleveland, they did so with the intention of surrounding him with a “super team”. That included the acquisition of Kevin Love, which didn’t come cheap. The Cavs surrendered No. 1 overall picks Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins to land the All-NBA power forward. One would be hard-pressed to find a fan who doesn’t consider the move a resounding win for the Cavs. Love averaged 17.1 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.1 assists across the four seasons in which the Cavs advanced to the Finals.
Finally, speaking of those four straight trips to the NBA Finals, the Cavs may not survive in 2016 if not for Love’s sticky defense on none other than Stephen Curry in the waning moments of Game 7.
1. July 12, 2014: LeBron James Signs Multi-year Deal With Cavaliers
Spoiled fans who threw temper tantrums and burned No. 23 jerseys following LeBron James’ departure for Miami in 2010 had to eat a slice of humble pie and reopen their wallets upon his return. The LeBron-led Cavs made four consecutive NBA Finals appearances — each against the Golden State Warriors — and won the title in 2016. James’ run-down block on Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals is one of the NBA’s signature moments. And the title that block helped seal ended a championship drought for the city of Cleveland that extended back to 1964.
There is no doubt that James’ return to Cleveland represents the biggest move in the Cavaliers’ history, but there’s an argument to be made that his return represented the biggest move in Cleveland sports history.
Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire