Cleveland sent shooting guard Carrick Felix and a second-round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, along with approximately $1 million in cash, to the Utah Jazz in exchange for point guard John Lucas III and power forwards Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy.
Lucas ($1.6 million), Thomas ($948,000) and Murphy ($816,000) all have non-guaranteed contracts for the 2014-2015 season, making them valuable pieces for the Cavaliers to use in another trade — possibly for Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love.
It is highly unlikely any of them will physically report to Cleveland, which values their contracts much more than their basketball skills. Second-year pro Felix is guaranteed to earn $816,000 in the upcoming season.
Love, meanwhile, remains in limbo as Minnesota president/coach Flip Saunders has re-opened trade talks with the Bulls. The Cavaliers and Warriors are still the leading candidates to acquire the three-time NBA All-Star, who averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds last season.
Though the Timberwolves have little leverage with Love entering the final season of his contract, Saunders is playing hardball with all three of his prospective suitors.
Minnesota has demanded rookie swingman Andrew Wiggins be included in any package from the Cavaliers, along with 2013 top overall selection Anthony Bennett, and at least one first-rounder.
No. 1 overall pick Wiggins is expected to sign his initial NBA contract today, which will pay him $5.5 million in his first season. Once the Kansas star puts pen to paper, Cleveland will be unable to trade him for 30 days, but could unofficially agree to do so in the interim.
The Timberwolves also are seeking to dump the contracts of point guard Jose Juan Barea and shooting guard Kevin Martin when they move Love, according to Yahoo.
The exciting and inconsistent Barea, who has one year and $4.5 million left on his contract, would interest the Cavs as a backup to Kyrie Irving and as a playmaker alongside four-time NBA MVP LeBron James.
Zanesville native Martin, though, is due $21 million over the next three seasons, which would be a salary cap albatross for Cleveland.
The Cavs have offered power forward Tristan Thompson and shooting guard Dion Waiters to Minnesota throughout the last month, but Saunders hasn’t been interested.
In a potential two-team deal between Cleveland and the Timberwolves, the Cavs would be required to trade at least $12.2 million in single-season salaries to obtain Love’s $15.7 million contract. Wiggins and power forward Bennett are due a combined $11.1 million.
NBA trade rules do not stipulate whether salaries are guaranteed or not, making insignificant assets like Lucas, Thomas and Murphy critical to pulling off complex transactions.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.