The Cleveland Cavaliers needed to make roster moves to get their number of players down to 15. Even if the team cut all of their non-guaranteed, partial-guaranteed players and training camp invites, the team would still need to cut at least one more contract to get down to the desired figure of 15.
While Jose Calderon was a viable option in the minds of many to be cut, the name that constantly came up by people around the team was Richard Jefferson. Rather than cut Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder, the team has come to an agreement to trade the duo to the Atlanta Hawks.
The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Cavs finalizing deal to unload Richard Jefferson, Kay Felder to Atlanta, sources tell ESPN. Hawks will send back European draft rights.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 13, 2017
The Cavs are also reportedly sending two second round picks to the Hawks in the deal.
This is a sad day, as Jefferson has become a fan favorite and will likely always be remembered as a beloved member of the organization. Jefferson played a crucial role in the Cavs first ever championship on the court, and along with Channing Frye helped breathe life into a locker room that desperately lacked chemistry.
With Isaiah Thomas out until January, the team likely felt it was risky to go with Derrick Rose as the only proven point guard on the roster given his injury history. Still, with the turnover the team has had this summer, having a strong locker room presence that can help bring people together would be an asset.
Locker room culture was something that was valued highly by the previous Cavs front office. The firing of David Blatt was due to the friction in the locker room. While Frye has given the Cavs some good production on the floor, his biggest impact with the team has come off the floor. With Koby Altman running the show, it’s clear that there wasn’t a premium placed on having Jefferson on the bench.
If the team decided to get rid of Calderon, they could easily have gone with Dwyane Wade at the point and sign another replacement level backup. But the team elected to go in another direction.