With an uncertain future at center beyond this season, the Cavaliers were thrilled when the Nets called to see if they were interested in Jarrett Allen, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Allen will be a restricted free agent this summer, and Brooklyn was looking for another team to get involved in the James Harden deal.
The Cavs acquired a promising 22-year-old big man, along with swingman Taurean Prince, for the bargain price of Dante Exum, the Bucks’ first-round pick in 2022, and a second-rounder in 2024. Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s decision to accept an extension in Milwaukee deflated the value of the Bucks’ pick, Fedor notes.
A source close to the team told Fedor the Cavaliers were “delighted” to pick up Allen.
“You get a guy who is 22 years old and just about to go into the prime of his career with our growing young core,” the source said. “To acquire a player of that magnitude, of that age, that’s why we acquired those assets, to have these opportunities.”
Andre Drummond is the current starting center in Cleveland, but he’s headed for free agency and was already a candidate to be moved before the trade deadline. Backup JaVale McGee is also in the final year of his contract and isn’t a good long-term fit at age 32. Fedor states that teams have already contacted the Cavs to see if McGee is available.
Allen can be the type of rim protector that Cleveland was seeking when it tried to acquire Myles Turner from the Pacers last February, Fedor notes. Instead, the organization surrendered cap room in free agency to trade for Drummond with the understanding that he was likely to opt into his $28.75MM salary for this season.
The Cavaliers have been interested in Allen since the 2017 draft and talked to the Nets about a potential deal during the offseason, according to Fedor. Brooklyn didn’t want to part with Allen at the time because of his low salary and his exceptional performance at Disney World, but that changed with the opportunity to acquire Harden. Allen is off to another strong start, averaging 11.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks through 12 games while shooting 67.7% from the field.
Cleveland is optimistic about its chances of keeping Allen beyond this season, Fedor adds. The Cavs inherit his Bird rights, and because he’s restricted they can match any offer he gets on the open market.