The Cavaliers have decided to keep Jared Cunningham past 4:00pm Central today, when his non-guaranteed contract would become fully guaranteed, league sources told Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. That means his full $981,348 salary will stick on Cleveland’s books, unless the team trades him between now and the February 18th trade deadline. It would cost the Cavs about four times as much in tax penalties if they don’t offload salary by the final day of the regular season.
Cleveland was already in line to pay more than $170MM in payroll and taxes before they decided to keep Cunningham for opening night. He’s already incurred about 43% of his salary by virtue of sticking around to this point, causing the estimated bill to rise, and keeping Cunningham for a full season would entail an outlay of about $175MM if the Cavs don’t make any more moves this season. That would be the second highest amount any team has ever spent in a single season, behind the Nets, who shelled out about $190MM in 2013/14.
An injury to Joe Harris that’s poised to keep him out two to three months, as Dave McMenamin and Haynes reported, seems likely to foil the team’s apparent attempt to clear his fully guaranteed salary via trade. The Cavs made Harris available on the market in part because they wanted to keep Cunningham, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, but it appears that Cunningham will stick anyway. The former 24th overall pick impressed during the preseason, and he’s developed a tight bond with LeBron James off the court, as Lloyd noted.