4 Biggest Cleveland Cavaliers Trades

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Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on November 21, 2014.
(Wikimedia Commons/Keith Allison)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Jul 05, 2023, 6:35 PM
  • Here are the biggest Cleveland Cavaliers trades in franchise history.
  • World B. Free leads the list of players Cleveland received through trade.
  • Other notable players the Cavaliers acquired were Brad Daugherty, Kevin Love, and Donovan Mitchell.

Since joining the NBA in 1970 as one of the expansion teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers have provided fans with plenty of excitement, especially with their home fans in Ohio. They are also known for several momentous and iconic moments in league history, including the selection of LeBron James in the draft, one of the greatest players of all time, and the famous 3-1 NBA Finals comeback in 2016, resulting in one of the best finals upsets in history.

That incredible comeback also proved that the team is more than capable of defying the basketball odds when their backs are against the wall. Thanks to several front-office moves that contained big trades and transactions, Cleveland was able to pull off these unbelievable achievements. Speaking of which, what are the biggest trades that the franchise has made? Here’s a top-four list.

World B. Free

From 1970 to 1982, Cleveland could only qualify for three playoff campaigns, and the fans’ interest in the city’s basketball team was steadily declining because of this poor showing. In December 1982, the team decided to make a bold move by letting go of Ron Brewer in pursuit of World B. Free from the Golden State Warriors, and it renewed fans’ interest quickly.

Because of his flashy and terrific scoring ability, World B. Free saved Cleveland’s professional basketball scene by becoming the face of the franchise, with numbers of 23.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 251 games across three-and-a-half seasons. Free also helped the team reach the 1985 postseason.

Brad Daugherty

After the Cavs moved on from World B. Free, they felt they needed another talent to sustain the foundation that the shooting guard built for the team, so they made another big trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in June 1986. Cleveland sent forward Roy Hinson and cash to trade for Philadelphia’s first overall pick in the 1986 draft.

The Cavaliers used the pick to select Brad Daugherty, the 7-foot center out of North Carolina. That gamble paid off, as Daugherty became an essential part of the team for eight seasons, where he racked up career averages of 19 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists and led them to six playoff runs. “Big Dukie” also became a five-time NBA All-Star.

Kevin Love

When LeBron James decided to return home to Cleveland, the front office quickly surrounded him with a strong supporting cast and competed for titles right away. Cleveland was involved in a three-team trade with Minnesota and Philadelphia that landed them versatile forward Kevin Love in 2015. They gave away Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins to complete the trio of James, Kyrie Irving, and Love.

The former UCLA standout complimented James and Irving, ultimately becoming the team’s third option by producing 15.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. Love was also a vital member of the team that went on four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, as well asone championship in 2016. He suited up for the team for over eight seasons before signing with the Miami Heat.

Donovan Mitchell

Since LeBron James left the team for the second time in 2018, Cleveland failed to reach the playoffs in four straight seasons from 2019 to 2022. This drought prompted the front office to make another huge splash in the trade market, as they acquired superstar guard Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz in exchange for Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, three first-round picks, and two pick swaps.

As expected, Mitchell brought his offensive excellence and led the team in scoring in his first season with 28.3 points, on top of 4.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists. “Spida” also led the team to the postseason as the fourth-seeded team in the East, finishing the regular season with 51 wins. Unfortunately, they were defeated by the Knicks in the opening round of the 2023 postseason in just five games.

Cleveland Cavaliers Biggest Trades

Player Acquired Trade DetailsYear
World B. FreeCavaliers received: World B. Free / Warriors received: Ron Brewer1982
Brad DaughertyCavaliers received: Brad Daugherty / Sixers received: Roy Hinson and cash1986
Kevin LoveCavaliers received: Kevin Love / Timberwolves received: Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and Thaddeus Young / Sixers received: Alexey Shved, Luc Mbah a Moute, and a first-round pick2015
Donovan MitchellCavaliers received: Donovan Mitchell / Jazz received: Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, three first-round picks, and two pick swaps2022

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.