The Cleveland Cavaliers are apparently ready to cater to LeBron James in an attempt to build a better team than the one that found itself two games from winning the NBA title this past season.
With James still waiting for the team to work out a new deal with Tristan Thompson and add another veteran or two before engaging in contract discussions, the Cavaliers seem to be interested in a former All-Star.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who is among the most well-connected insiders when it comes to the Cavaliers, the team is looking to trade for Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson. The carrots that Cleveland would use in such a deal would be Brendan Haywood’s non-guaranteed $10.5 million salary for 2015-16 and potentially backup center Anderson Varejao.
Considering Cleveland is over the luxury tax, any deal would have to be a near-perfect match in terms of salaries. Adding James’ personal favorite in the form of Varejao, would make this trade possible. If not, the Cavaliers would then have to find another suitor for Haywood’s valuable contract.
Johnson, 34, is a seven-time All-Star. However, his numbers have taken a dramatic step back in recent seasons. He’s coming off a 2014-15 campaign that saw him average 14.4 points while shooting 44 percent from the field, including 36 percent from three-point range.
If the Cavaliers are able to land Johnson, he would likely take over as the team’s starting shooting guard—meaning that the recently re-signed Iman Shumpert would play a super-sub role next season.
It’s not a secret that Brooklyn has been attempting to unload Johnson’s contract, which pays him about $25 million next season. Picking up just Varejao’s deal as well as another cap-filler or two would enable the Nets to lower the luxury tax payout required under the current cap rules.
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