After selecting Andrew Wiggins No. 1 and Joe Harris at No. 33, many Cleveland Cavaliers fans were already buying into whatever new general manager David Griffin was selling. However, it was a move he made later in the night—overlooked by many—that should have fans excited for the future of this organization.
Admittedly, when Griffin sent the non-guaranteed contract of Alonzo Gee ($3.2 million) to the Charlotte Hornets for second-round pick, Dwight Powell, and veteran Brendan Haywood I was a little perplexed. Giving up an asset like Gee’s contract in return for Haywood and some rookie just didn’t make sense.
But thanks to the wonderful world of Twitter and my ranting about the deal, one of my followers drummed up this nice little tidbit about Haywood’s contract. On the surface, it looked like Haywood was the price for getting Powell, however, that is not anywhere near what this deal was about.
When you first look at Haywood’s contract, you will see the amount of $2.2 million for this upcoming season. That’s where I stopped looking at first, because I didn’t understand why Griffin grabbed a guy who would take away $2.2 million from this season’s cap space and likely wouldn’t make much of an impact on the team this year anyway. But thanks to this article, my eyes were opened up in a big way.
“Instead, it’s the 2015-2016 year on Haywood’s contract that is the real asset Cleveland acquired. Due to the language of the collective bargaining agreement, when they Hornets put an Amnesty claim on Haywood after he was waived by the Dallas Mavericks, the Hornets had Haywood under contract at the amount of their bid (the $2.2 million figure), except for the final year on his deal. Haywood has a 2015-2016 salary on the books at $10.5 million, except that it’s entirely non-guaranteed.”
That last sentence is the eye opener, and shows that not only is Griffin planning for big things this offseason, but he is fixated on being able to make a splash heading into next season as well. Owning a $10.5 million trade chip that can clear major cap space before August 1st of 2015 (according to Spotrac.com) is pretty much gold in today’s NBA. You have heard me preach about the importance of the partially and non-guaranteed contracts of Gee, Anderson Varejao and Scotty Hopson over the past couple of months, well this trumps them in a big way.
The only kicker here is that the contract becomes an asset next offseason, so you will likely have the privilege of seeing Haywood play 15 minutes or so a night for the team this year. Coming off a season in which he played 19 minutes per night, shot a career low 43.1 percent and seemingly was a shell of himself with 3.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per night, predicting him to play 15 minutes may be generous.
At 7’0” and 263 pounds, the 34-year former first-round pick of the Cavaliers way back in 2001 will surely find his better playing days behind him. But if he can come in and be a big body down low and provide a veteran presence for a young team in desperate need of one, Haywood could certainly make an impact on his new team this season.
For Griffin and the Cavaliers, this move was less about Haywood the player and more about his contract next season. And if Griffin can strike a deal with a team looking to clear cap space next season, we could be talking about how one year of Haywood playing limited minutes was the first of many brilliant moves by the Cavaliers new general manager.