Fifty-four players moved across the NBA landscape this trade deadline. Twenty-eight teams were involved in at least one deal, but the Cleveland Cavaliers were not a part of any trade deadline action. Confident in what they have, the Cavaliers sat back and watched the craziness unfold.
When 3-and-D veteran Danny Green finalized a buyout with the Houston Rockets, however, the Cavaliers saw their chance to make a valuable, low-risk addition to their roster. Back in 2009, Green actually started his career with the Cavaliers as a second-round pick. He struggled early on in his career and was waived twice before having a breakout season with the Spurs in 2011, turning himself into a reliable role player on both ends of the floor. Since then, he has won three championships with the San Antonio Spurs, the Toronto Raptor, and the Los Angeles Lakers, which makes him one of the most respected veterans in the league.
Unfortunately, Green tore his ACL in May 2022 with the Philadelphia 76ers, who ended up trading him to the Memphis Grizzlies. There, he played only three games after a speedy recovery before being included in a three-team deal that sent him to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets are a young team filled with potential stars, but the team is not the right fit for a player who wants to help a playoff team improve their chances.
With the Cavaliers, Green can do exactly that, as he brings certain things to the table that the young team has been missing all season long. First of all, Green brings valuable postseason experience with him. While Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio, and Kevin Love among others have had their fair share of playoff games, some of the Cavaliers’ players have not yet seen any playoff action in their young careers. Green, however, has played in 165 playoff games over 14 seasons and made it all the way to the finals four times. That is pretty much more postseason experience than the rest of the Cavs roster has combined, and Green has already shown in Memphis that he is a willing leader and teacher for a young, ambitious team.
Green certainly is a useful locker-room presence for any squad, but he is just as well-liked as a player around the league. Before his injury, he was the kind of 3-and-D wing every team could use in their playoff rotation, and the Cavaliers in particular have been in needing that type of player all season long. Isaac Okoro has started to come along in that role, but he is still more of an athletic transition threat, dunker, and cutter than a catch-and-shoot player. Green, on the other hand, is a 40 percent career three-point shooter who thrives in the corner. He likes to wait on the edges for an opportunity to sprint down the baseline, lose his defender, and get an open look. This fits perfectly with the Cavaliers’ style because they like having someone in the corner who can stretch the floor and find open spots for kick-out passes. Green should fill that void well, as he had no problem finding those open spots in a new system with the Grizzlies, so the transition to the Cavaliers’ game should go fairly smooth as well.
His main function on offense will be to stretch the floor for the two big men to go to work in the paint or for Mitchell and Darius Garland to drive because defenses have to respect him from behind the arc. Garland is particularly great at drawing help defenders into the paint and finding the open shooter, which will give Green plenty of good looks. He can also be more active, attacking close outs and using screens to open up shots if needed, but Green does not need the ball in his hands to be effective. That is great for the Cavaliers because he won’t take opportunities away from their young core. He also won’t take away too many minutes from role players who need the time to develop. Green does not need a lot of playing time to have an impact. Especially now that he is 35 years old and will probably be on a similar recovery plan as Rubio to ease him back into the game after his injury.
Defensively, Green has always been a respected perimeter defender over his career and made the All-Defensive Second Team in the 2016-17 season. While he may not be able to guard the point of attack quite as well anymore, he can contain shooting guards or smaller wings well. His defensive presence bolsters their backcourt on that end of the floor as well as the trio of Okoro, Caris LeVert and Dean Wade to take on the toughest perimeter scorers in case one or two of them are out.
On paper, Green is a seamless fit for the Cavaliers. He is a strong defender built for a defensive-minded team, fills their most pressing offensive gaps, and brings experience to a young team. Now, it just remains to be seen how big of an impact his injury will have on his game. If healthy, he offers them easy offensive options and solid defense, which makes him a reliable playoff option, especially when some of the bench players, such as Cedi Osman, struggle on a given night.
Green recovered quickly from the ACL tear, which is a good sign that he will be able to help out the Cavaliers soon, but even if the addition does not pan out, the Cavaliers did not give up any valuable pieces to sign him. It would be great for both the team and Green himself, though, if he could spend the backend of his career aiding a young contending squad.