Caris LeVert Trade Analysis: Betting Impact on Cavaliers Division, Postseason Odds
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Caris LeVert (Pacers)
The Cleveland Cavaliers made their move for added wing depth Sunday, trading second-rounders, a lottery-protected first-round pick and injured point guard Ricky Rubio to Indiana for Indiana Pacers guard Caris LeVert.
Cleveland had been pursuing an upgrade on the wing for some time. With plenty of draft picks and a roster that has become a serious threat in the East — despite a lacking half-court offense after injuries to Collin Sexton and Rubio — the move was finally made.
The trade for LeVert means the Cavs will give up a non-lottery pick and second-rounders from other teams, per ESPN, to acquire the upgrade they were looking for.
The Cavs had also explored talks for Houston’s Eric Gordon and Portland’s CJ McCollum. As The Action Network reported Sunday, the Rockets are said to have two offers on the table to acquire a first-round pick for Gordon, but are looking for a pick in this year’s draft that would fall in the teens.
For the Pacers, this was likely the first of a series of trades. The Pacers have been active in talks for both Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Justin Holiday is another name thought to be targeted by several teams.
Let's take a look at the broader impact from a betting standpoint.
Cavaliers Division Odds
The Cavs sit just two games back of the Chicago Bulls in the loss column for the lead in the Central Division entering Sunday. They're tied with the Milwaukee Bucks at 21 losses.
Earlier in the day, Cleveland was +375 to win the division at BetMGM. Odds immediately came off the board following the trade, but have reposted at +300 for the Cavs, +300 for the Bulls and -110 for the Bucks.
LeVert joins the Cavaliers in replace of an inactive player (on account of Rubio’s season-ending injury). This is a pure addition for a team with the fourth-best adjusted Net Rating in the NBA when factoring schedule — not just the East, in the entire league.
With Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso still out for Chicago, the Bulls’ top-heavy roster will struggle to get stops. Chicago has the 26th-ranked defense over the last two weeks, via Cleaning The Glass.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, is still without Brook Lopez until March at the earliest, and is clearly coasting post-title. The Bucks have very little incentive to put the hammer down to finish with a top-three seed.
LeVert has shot just 32% from 3-point range this season. He’ll need to return to his Brooklyn levels of 35% to be what the Cavs need, but he’s a willing defender.
LeVert is a high-usage gunner, but the Cavs sometimes struggle with on-dribble shot creation. Just having another on-ball player boosts their regular season margin for error, especially with Darius Garland having issues with back soreness this season.
The Cavaliers’ defense is stellar and with their trio of bigs, they have the at-rim gravity to open up things for LeVert. Garland will likely generate more assists from LeVert’s added spacing.
The Cavs have the second-easiest remaining schedule by opponent record, compared to the second-toughest for Milwaukee and seventh-toughest for Chicago, according to Positive Residual.
Pass on East Futures
Even with LeVert, there’s no EV on the Cavs’ to win the Eastern Conference (they moved from 30-1 to 20-1 on DraftKings), so you're better off playing them series-by-series in the playoffs based on matchup.
Cleveland’s offense is still pedestrian compared to their competitors, and Garland, Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen have no playoff experience.
Cleveland’s depth is also not good enough to handle any further injuries. LeVert has dealt with a variety of issues the past two seasons, even after returning from the surgical removal of a tumor on his kidney last year.
It’s better to play them situationally based on the series, especially since they'll likely be dogs in every series outside of the first round (and even then, they might be shorter than expected for seeding).
Nothing Actionable on Indiana
The Pacers still have some talent remaining if Malcolm Brogdon can get over his Achilles’ soreness, which has plagued him this season.
If the Pacers make trades for Sabonis and Turner, they’re likely to get some players back who will keep their floor high. The Pacers’ in-season win total at DraftKings will likely plummet, but given the odds of Indiana playing for draft positioning, there’s no value.
The move grades out at three stars for the Cavs. LeVert’s not a perfect player, but he addresses need and the price was more about multiple asset opportunities than the value of any singular pick given up.
The trade grades out as three stars for the Pacers. They gave up the ghost on the season and get multiple picks back, including the Rockets’ 2022 pick, which very likely will be close to a first-rounder.