The Cleveland Cavaliers believe they have a great chance to land LeBron James in free agency. In order to sign him to a maximum contract, however, the team needed to shed about $7 million dollars off their projected cap hit.
They've done that.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Cavaliers will complete a deal tomorrow that gives up at least Tyler Zeller, Sergey Karasev and Jarrett Jack, as well as a potential future first round pick, for the ability to pay these players absolutely nothing next year.
ESPN sources say Brooklyn Nets on verge of acquiring Jarrett Jack from Cleveland in three-team deal— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2014
Three-team trade will see Nets acquire Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev from Cleveland. Boston gets Thornton, Zeller and a first— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2014
Cavs will obviously have to take back future second-rounder of some sort to seal deal but Cleveland obviously doing this solely for space— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 9, 2014
On its face, this is a tough deal to swallow. Tyler Zeller genuinely improved last year. His true shooting percentage jumped and he was clearly more comfortable on the court. He was taking more shots around the rim and converting them. I think his defense was pretty bad, though he was able to challenge shots at the rim.
Karasev is a 20 year old sharpshooter that may or may not be an NBA athlete. I have high hopes for him, still, though he didn't show much as a rookie to make you think that potential is there. The Brooklyn Nets were reportedly high on him before last years draft, and appear to have finally gotten their man.
Jarrett Jack was a prized free agent signing from last summer, but whether it was injuries or style of play, his first year in Cleveland never got off the ground. By the end of the season it was clear that he was looking for a fresh start, but his contract that guarantees him $12.6 million over the next two seasons was going to be difficult to move. We see now that the price of moving him was Zeller, Karasev, and a future pick. We also don't know yet what that pick looks like. We will keep you updated in the comments.
It's not a fun pill to swallow, but even if James doesn't come back you aren't giving up anything that looks like it can be a future starter in the NBA at the moment. And if LeBron James does make it to Cleveland? Well, this was the deal that had to happen. It was either that or shipping off a piece like Dion Waiters or Anthony Bennett.
This is probably just the first Cavs move.
As @ESPNSteinLine reports, Cavs unload Jack/Zeller/Karasev in 3-way. Asked Cavs official: Still in it for James? "I believe so," he says.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
UPDATE: Details of the first round pick the Cavs are giving up
Boston gets: Marcus Thornton-Tyler Zeller, Cavs 2016 protected pick. Top 10 in '16, '17 or '18. Unprotected in '19.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014