As a part of our ongoing series detailing which players the Charlotte Hornets should target during free agency, our attention shifts to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs finished with a 44-38 record, which earned them an 8th-place finish in the Eastern Conference. Despite having an incredible first half of the season, injuries caught up with Cleveland, and their season ended with a disappointing back-to-back losing effort in the play-in tournament.
Having the best record of the non-playoff teams, Cleveland has the pieces they need to compete in May and June. With a young core revolving around Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen, the Cavs are eerily similar to the Hornets and their young core of LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges.
For the players entering free agency in 2022, Cleveland has quite a few names to bring back to their rotation. Starting with the club and player options, there is only one. Dean Wade has a team option that is surely going to be picked up. As a member of the Cavs’ rotation, Wade should remain in Cleveland.
As for the restricted free agents, this is where it gets a little more interesting. RJ Nembhard and Moses Brown should not be on Charlotte’s radar, but Collin Sexton could make for an interesting target.
Coming off of a season-ending knee injury, Sexton is entering the restricted market on a team that just proved they can win a load of games without him. Because of this, the Cavs may not be eager to sign him to a large-scale deal and may let him walk if another team offers him significant money. While I would not expect Charlotte to target another guard who struggles on the defensive end, a cheap make-or-break, one-year deal for Sexton may give the Hornets enough of a push to win now.
Moving on to the unrestricted free agents, the Cavs have Ed Davis, Brandon Goodwin, and Rajon Rondo. Each of these players could realistically be brought in by the Hornets’ front office. Davis is a serviceable big, Rondo has one of the highest basketball IQs in the world, and Goodwin could be a young backup point guard. Goodwin would be the one I most expect to sign with Charlotte, but that is still not a high percent chance of happening.
Overall, Cleveland has talented players entering the free agent pool, but a number of them do not fit with what Charlotte already has on its roster. Sexton, Brown, and Goodwin could provide some value for the Hornets, but none of the aforementioned players would be a perfect fit.