Several teams, including the Timberwolves, have inquired on the availability of Iman Shumpert in recent weeks, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in his latest piece previewing the upcoming NBA season. Those teams have gotten the impression that the Cavaliers are willing to discuss Shumpert, though they won’t simply dump his salary for nothing, says Lowe.
There are a few reasons why it could make sense for the Cavs to consider moving Shumpert. For one, after re-signing J.R. Smith, the Cavs are fairly deep on the wing, with Smith, Shumpert, Mike Dunleavy, Richard Jefferson, and James Jones among the players who could see regular minutes at the two or three. That list doesn’t even include LeBron James, who figures to occasionally play some small forward, or Jordan McRae, who has led the team in preseason scoring.
Additionally, the Cavs are well into tax territory now, so removing Shumpert’s $9,662,922 salary from their books would reduce their eventual tax bill significantly. The ex-Knick’s deal runs through at least 2018, with a player option for 2018/19, so moving it off the books could create a little more future flexibility as well.
The Cavaliers have reportedly been on the hunt for a backup point guard via trade, and while McRae and Mo Williams were among the players mentioned as trade candidates in that report, Shumpert’s salary is significantly larger. Trading him would allow Cleveland to take on more salary in return, increasing their number of options.
The Timberwolves also represent an interesting potential trade partner for the Cavs, since both Ricky Rubio and Tyus Jones have been the subject of trade rumors this offseason. The Wolves like both players, but fifth overall pick Kris Dunn is viewed as the point guard of the future in Minnesota. It’s also worth noting that the Wolves are well below the salary cap, and could easily accommodate Shumpert’s salary.
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Still, this is mostly speculation. While it’s possible the Cavs decide to move Shumpert, it would be a little surprising to see the team shake up its rotation significantly this close to the start of the regular season. As Lowe notes, Cleveland would have to get real value in return, rather than just dumping Shumpert’s contract.