The Cavs are making Joe Harris available for a trade, a source tells Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, and they would like to obtain a second-round pick in exchange, Lloyd writes. It appears they’re looking for more than a token, top-55-protected selection, as Lloyd adds that they haven’t explored the option of simply dumping Harris for one of those. Cleveland is showcasing the swingman in the D-League, according to Lloyd, having assigned him to Canton for the fourth time this season on December 2nd.
Fueling the motivation to explore trades for Harris are the emergence of Jared Cunningham and the team’s looming luxury tax bill, as Lloyd explains. Cunningham, who has a non-guaranteed contract, won his way onto the regular season roster with an impressive preseason and has crept onto the fringes of the rotation in the regular season, averaging 13.4 minutes per game in 20 appearances. Harris has seen only 15 total minutes of playing time all season at the NBA level. Trading Harris for a pick and no salary in return would remove his entire, fully guaranteed $845,059 salary from the team’s payroll and roughly four times that amount from the team’s projected tax payment.
The Cavs could also reduce their payroll and tax risk if they waive Cunningham before the end of January 7th so that his salary doesn’t become guaranteed, but it appears they’d like to keep him instead of Harris. LeBron James and Cunningham have become tight off the court, as Lloyd observed earlier this month, though Lloyd posited that it wouldn’t have an effect on whether the Cavs kept Cunningham.
Harris was the 33rd overall pick in 2014 but has yet to make much of an impact in the NBA. He’s averaging 17.3 points and 4.8 rebounds in 33.9 minutes per game with 31.7% 3-point shooting in nine D-League appearances so far this season. His contract runs through next season, when his salary of about $980K is non-guaranteed.