The Memphis Grizzlies were looking to dump salary in order to sign star forward Rudy Gay to a long-term contract extension and avoid paying the luxury tax.
That was the impetus behind the reported deal that Tuesday sent young big man Jon Leuer to Memphis and brought power forward Marreese Speights, shooting guard Wayne Ellington and point guard Josh Selby to Cleveland.
According to reports, the Cavs will also get a first-round pick in the deal, though it is not known in what year. The pick is reportedly top-five protected for the Grizzlies.
The Cavs had not yet confirmed the trade as of late Tuesday morning, but it had been reported by numerous media outlets and websites.
The best player in the deal is fifth-year pro Speights, a 6-foot-10, 245-pounder who won a national title at Florida and was originally chosen by Philadelphia with the 16th pick in the 2008 draft.
The 25-year-old, who is earning $4.2 million this season and has a player option that will pay him $4.5 million in 2013-14, was averaging 6.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in 14.5 minutes a game with the Grizzlies. Last season he averaged 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in a bigger role with Memphis.
Speights’ contract will come off the books in the summer of 2014, which is the earliest LeBron James could opt out of his deal in Miami and become a free agent.
Ellington is a 6-4, 200-pounder from North Carolina who spent the first three seasons of his NBA career with Minnesota after being taken with the 28th pick in 2009. The 25-year-old, fourth-year pro was averaging 5.5 points and 1.1 assists for the Grizzlies.
Unless the Cavs give Ellington a qualifying offer, his $2.08 million contract will come off the books at the end of the season.
Selby, whose $762,000 contract matches that of Leuer, is a 6-2, 183-pounder out of Kansas. The 49th player chosen in 2011, he played sparingly for Memphis and averaged 2.0 points and 0.4 assists this season.
The 6-10 Leuer, acquired off waivers from Houston in the offseason, appeared in nine games for the Cavs and averaged 2.4 points and 1.4 rebounds.
Contact Rick Noland at (330)721-4061 or email@example.com.