JUNE 25TH, 3:11am: GM David Griffin essentially confirmed the team is shopping Haywood, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com notes at the bottom of a story on J.R. Smith. Cleveland ended up trading its first-rounder in a separate deal.
JUNE 23RD, 9:40am: The market hasn’t yielded much for a package of Haywood and the No. 24 pick, sources tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe.
JUNE 19TH, 9:44am: The Cavaliers are looking for trade partners who’ll take on Brendan Haywood and his unusually valuable contract, and in some proposals involving him, they’ve offered their first-rounder, the 24th overall pick, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Any such deal involving the draft choice would have to become official after the draft, since the Ted Stepien rule prevents the Cavs, who’ve already traded their 2016 first-rounder, from trading two consecutive future first-round picks, as Windhorst notes. Cleveland would be able to maximize its return for Haywood by waiting until after the July Moratorium to formalize a deal that sends him out.
It’s no surprise that the Cavs would be looking to trade Haywood, since his deal, a vestige of the amnesty clause, contains a non-guaranteed salary worth $10,522,500 next season. A trade that happens before the 2014/15 season officially ends on June 30th would involve salary matching based on his current $2.214MM salary, but if the Cavs wait until next month, they could take in as much as $15,522,500. To make that figure work, they’d have to be careful to execute the trade before making signings that would take the team above the luxury tax threshold, a line the Cavs are seemingly poised to cross. If they traded Haywood as a tax team, they could only take in $13,253,125, though that would still make the contract an eminently valuable trade chip, as the team that receives Haywood can waive him and reap that much more cap flexibility.
The Cavs have explored the market for adding a player as well as a draft pick in return for Haywood, according to Windhorst. That they would seek a draft pick suggests that Cleveland is considering a measure of austerity, since that would be significantly cheaper than taking back an eight-figure guaranteed salary. The Cavs want a facilitating guard who can either back up or play alongside Kyrie Irving, according to Windhorst, and if they’re seeking a player who’d primarily be a reserve, that, too, indicates that Cleveland wants to hold the line on its payroll to some degree. Simply re-signing its own free agents would likely force the Cavs well into the tax, and the team has had internal discussions about a payroll of between $100MM to $110MM, numbers that would likely incur a tax bill of some $75MM or more, as Windhorst reported earlier this week.
Windhorst also suggests in his latest report that the Cavs could dangle the rights to draft-and-stash center Sasha Kaun, who played under coach David Blatt on the Russian national team and who’s apparently eyeing an NBA deal. Cleveland was earlier reportedly giving thought to signing him this summer.