NBA Rumors: Alex Caruso in high demand, Cavs float top-5 pick, Wolves on prowl

  • Timberwolves in search of backup point guard help
  • Cavs 'name to watch' at trade deadline is Isaac Okoro
  • Bulls' Alex Caruso will cost 'equivalent' of two first-round picks

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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NBA Rumors: Cavs expected to field offers for Isaac Okoro

The Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to retain their core of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley at the trade deadline, per HoopsHype. That said, one Cavs player "to monitor" this week is Isaac Okoro. A former No. 5 pick, Okoro is eligible to hit restricted free agency at season's end. He is averaging 8.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists on .492/.372/.687 splits in 26.3 minutes. He has started in 24 of 38 appearances for Cleveland.

Okoro's qualifying offer would be $11.8 million. The expectation in league circles, per HoopsHype, is that Okoro can earn at least $14 million annually on his next contract. Okoro is enjoying the best 3-point shooting season of his career and he has emerged as a legitimate All-Defense contender. The Cavs are the No. 2 defense in the NBA. Most of the credit tends to fall to Allen and Mobley — and for good reason — but Okoro's ability to generate stops at the point of attack is invaluable. At 6-foot-5, he's strong enough to guard forwards and quick enough to mirror twitchy guards on the perimeter.

If the Cavs don't want to pay Okoro, it's only logical to trade him. Any team that acquires the 23-year-old will have the ability to extend the qualifying offer and match any offer sheet he receives from another team in free agency. Essentially, Okoro is not an expiring contract unless the Cavs or his next team willfully cut ties.

Okoro's 3-point success appears sustainable. He has been gradually improving with each passing season. The volume isn't great, but if he can demand respect as a spot-up threat in the playoffs, it will dramatically change his value to a contender. The Cavs don't really have another defender to step into Okoro's shoes, however, so any trade would ideally need to return another solid wing stopper.