Cleveland has the No. 8 overall pick on Thursday, courtesy of the Kyrie Irving blockbuster deal with the Celtics last summer. The front office has sent signals that it intends to upgrade the team, even if James opts out of his contract or requests a trade, Vardon continues.
Cleveland has sent out feelers to the Spurs about their willingness to deal disgruntled forward Kawhi Leonard. Hornets point guard Kemba Walker is another potential target, according to Vardon. Adding another impact player would be a way of trying to entice James to stay put but, of course, there’s no guarantee that will convince him to do so.
The front office and James’ camp have been in contact over the phone and in person lately, though the team’s brass hasn’t met with James,, sources told Vardon. There have not been any serious discussions regarding his future because James remains uncertain what he’s going to do, Vardon adds.
Despite their willingness to deal, the Cavaliers could still hold onto the pick.
Adding another veteran or two, especially if Cleveland uses the $5.8MM trade exception it possesses, would present even more salary-cap issues. The Cavs will pay about $50MM in luxury-tax penalties on last season’s payroll, Vardon notes, and they’ll still be over the cap even if James bolts without them trading for more help. Yet the Cavs’ front office is still willing to take on more salary with the hope of improving their chances to retain James, Vardon adds.