After signing Dwyane Wade last week, the Cavaliers are now carrying 16 players on fully guaranteed contracts, plus 2016/17 holdovers Kay Felder and Edy Tavares. Even if Cleveland cuts Felder and Tavares, the club will need to trade or waive one more player from a group of candidates that likely includes Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Jose Calderon, and Jefferson.
Calderon has been solid for the Cavs so far, according to Lloyd, who suggests that the veteran point guard should be safe, given the uncertainty on the depth chart ahead of him. Shumpert and Frye are considered trade candidates, but their salaries ($10.34MM and $7.42MM respectively) will make them difficult to move.
That leaves Jefferson as the potential odd man out. Unlike Calderon, Jefferson is trade-eligible now, and unlike Shumpert and Frye, his salary is modest, at just $2.5MM. The Cavaliers are exploring smaller-scale trades involving Jefferson, according to Amico, and finding a taker for the veteran forward would be preferable to cutting him, since it would reduce the Cavs’ projected tax bill substantially.
However, Cleveland has gotten no traction on a deal so far, and may end up having to outright release Jefferson or another player, since rivals won’t be eager to help out the defending Eastern Conference champs. If the Cavs do find a team willing to take on Jefferson or someone else, the salary dump would likely cost Cleveland at least one draft pick and/or cash.