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Cavaliers acquire Caris LeVert from Pacers for Ricky Rubio, picks

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are making a move to bolster their rotation as they fight for a top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Cavaliers traded Ricky Rubio, a first-round pick and two second-round picks to the Indiana Pacers for Caris LeVert, the teams announced Monday. The trade was first reported Sunday less than two hours before the teams played each other in Cleveland.

According to ESPN, one of the second-round picks originally belonged to the Houston Rockets and will likely be in the top 35. The first-round pick is lottery-protected but will convey if and when the Cavaliers make the playoffs.

LeVert, a native of Ohio, is averaging 18.7 points per game on 45% shooting from the field. The Cavs are currently 32-21 and in fourth place in the East. But Cleveland is just 1.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat for the top spot as the top five teams in the East are all separated by two games with roughly 30 games to go in the season.

A top-four seed is important as it means home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Rubio, whose contract expires at the end of the season, was a key contributor for the Cavs until he suffered a torn ACL in late December. He’ll miss the rest of the season and will not suit up for the Pacers unless he re-signs with the team in the offseason.

Adding LeVert is a boost for a Cleveland backcourt that has also been missing Collin Sexton and, most recently, Darius Garland. Sexton played in just 11 games before a knee injury sidelined him for the season in November. Garland, the team’s leading scorer with 20 points per game, hasn’t played since Jan. 30 because of a back injury.

LeVert could slide into the starting lineup for the Cavaliers or become a top scoring option for the team off the bench.

His departure also could be the first of multiple moves for the Pacers. Indiana is 19-35 on the season and seven games outside of the play-in tournament. Trading LeVert for Rubio and picks is a clear sign that the team is pivoting toward future seasons and could foreshadow other trades. Indiana could also deal Domantas Sabonis and or Myles Turner if it decides to acquire more picks.

New Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert (22) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)
Caris LeVert is now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)