Cleveland Cavaliers Rumors: 5 Trade Options for the Brendan Haywood Contract

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With the official beginning of NBA free agency less than 24 hours away, the Cleveland Cavaliers and general manager David Griffin will be looking for a way to improve their roster. Operating under the assumption that both LeBron James and Kevin Love will be back after opting out of their contracts for the 2015-2016 season last week, the Cavaliers will not be a major player on the free agent market due to their salary cap situation. If you do not believe me, just check out this fantastic breakdown from the guys at Fear the Sword.

LeBron isn't going anywhere, but that doesn't mean the pressure isn't on the front office.
LeBron isn’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean the pressure isn’t on the front office.

Instead, Griffin and the front office will have to focus on utilizing one of the most unique and potentially intriguing assets on the open market this offseason—the contract of little used big man, Brendan Haywood. When the Cavaliers acquired Haywood from Charlotte last season, he was on the final year of his amnestied deal—making just over $2.2 million. But Griffin did not acquire Haywood because he was cheap last season, he acquired him because of what his contract would mean in the 2015-2016 season.

At the age of 35, Haywood does not have much value to teams as a player. However, it is his tantalizing contract that could potentially be in demand in the next couple of days. See, Haywood’s contract jumps from $2.2 million to $10.52 million this offseason, but it is non-guaranteed if he is waived prior to August 1st.

So, why would a team want to acquire a 35-year old big man making $10.52 million this coming season? To save money this year, of course—and that is why, as long as Dan Gilbert is okay with going further over the luxury tax, the Cavaliers could still make a big splash this offseason.

Now, before we dive into the list let’s be realistic for a second, the Cleveland Cavaliers are not going to acquire a superstar for Haywood’s contract. No, at best the Cavaliers could find a starting shooting guard, a backup point guard or some combination of bench depth—and that is okay. The teams looking to make a deal for Haywood in the early days of free agency will likely be attempting to shed salary to sign their own free agents or a big name of their own on the open market.

With all of this in mind, there are five potential deals out there that reasonably could work given rumors of teams wanting to cut salary. If there are any you think missed the cut, feel free to chime in below.

Realistic Deals

Cavs-Thunder

Augustin would be a nice piece behind Irving.
Augustin would be a nice piece behind Irving.

Cleveland Gets:
D.J. Augustin: $3 million in 2015, free agent in 2016.
Perry Jones III: $2.03 million in 2015, restricted free agent in 2016.
Anthony Morrow: $3.34 million in 2015, $3.48 million in 2016, free agent in 2017

Oklahoma City Gets:
Brendan Haywood: $10.52 million in 2015

If the Cleveland Cavaliers want to attempt to address a number of their offseason needs in one deal, this would be one of the ways to do it. With rumors floating around that Oklahoma City is looking to move salary in order to re-sign Enes Kanter and Kyle Singler this offseason, the Haywood contract would help them do just that. On top of that, these teams just worked together last season on a deal—so one would assume there is a good working relationship between the front offices. P.S., if you read David Aldridge’s article on NBA.com I didn’t steal it from him, great minds just think alike.

Why this deal for the Haywood contract?

First off, the Cavaliers add a much-needed backup point guard for Kyrie Irving in Augustin. At 27-years old, Augustin is a former lottery pick from the 2008 NBA Draft who never really established himself as a legitimate starter in the NBA. However, his career average of 10 points and 4.1 assists in 24.8 minutes per game seems to be a solid fit for the Cavs are looking for off the bench at the point guard position.

After Augustin, Jones III provides a young player with upside who has never really had much of a chance stuck between small and power forward behind Kevin Durant. In three seasons the Baylor product is averaging 3.4 points and 1.8 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per game. In Cleveland, he won’t find much more playing time with the likes of James, Love and Tristan Thompson ahead of him on the depth chart, but with the Cavaliers looking to get their core players a lot of rest during the regular season, he could find himself playing a lot of mop-up duty.

The final piece would likely be either Morrow or Steve Novak, as it is doubtful the Thunder give up both players since they will want to retain some perimeter shooting. My preference is Morrow in this deal, but either player would provide a perimeter threat to add to the lineup. Morrow is turning 30-years old this September, and for his career has averaged 10.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1 assist per game in 23.8 minutes per night. With a career 45.4 field goal percentage and 42.9 percent from three-point land, Morrow would provide the Cavaliers with the flexibility to let J.R. Smith walk if his free-agent dollar demands (reportedly $8 million per season) are too high.

With the Oklahoma City side of things being shy of the $10.5 million, there could be a required piece to be added to make the money work—but you get the point. If the Thunder want to shed salary to re-sign those players, this would be the perfect way to do it and give the Cavaliers two players in Augustin and Morrow who would be in their rotation.

Cavs-Celtics

Could the Buckeye return to Ohio?
Could the Buckeye return to Ohio?

Cleveland Gets:
Avery Bradley: $7.73 million in 2015, $8.26 million in 2016, $8.8 million in 2017
Evan Turner: $3.42 million in 2015, free agent in 2016

Boston Gets:
Brendan Haywood: $10.52 million in 2015, free agent in 2016
Future Draft Pick

The Cavaliers were rumored to be in the running for Bradley on the day of the draft, and the Celtics moves in the 2015 NBA Draft did not tell a different story. They added four players, three of which add to an already over-loaded backcourt in Boston. With the Celtics loading up on youth and keeping their payroll low to make a run at some of the top free agents—eliminating $11 million between Bradley and Turner would make a ton of sense for the Celtics.

Obviously there is concern this would open up more space for the team to lure Love there, but you just have to trust the rumored word that he is staying in Cleveland with James and Irving. As long as you are okay with that, you make this deal and do not look back. Bradley gives you a gritty guard who can score behind Irving and Turner gives you a veteran two-guard who can defend twos and threes at the NBA level.

Cavs-Rockets

Cleveland Gets:
Trevor Ariza: $8.19 million in 2015, $7.8 million in 2016, $7.42 million in 2017, free agent 2018
Pablo Prigioni: $1.73 million in 2015, free agent in 2016

Houston Gets:
Brendan Haywood: $10.52 million in 2015, free agent in 2016

Another team rumored to be making a run at top free agents like Love and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Cavaliers would once again be making this deal hoping Love’s word is good. If so, this is a deal that could help the Cavaliers immensely—especially since Ariza is under contract the next three seasons. The Rockets made a similar deal last season when they moved Omer Asik to the Pelicans, so it is not unfathomable to think they would do the same for a shot at adding Aldridge.

At 30-years old, Ariza is not a stranger to both starting and coming off the bench in the NBA—though he has started all 159 regular season games he has played in over the last two seasons. For his career in 27.9 minutes per night, Ariza is averaging 10.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He is also a solid wing defender—something the Cavaliers could have desperately used during the NBA Finals.

Longshot Trades

Cavs-Nuggets

Cavaliers Get:
Ty Lawson: $12.4 million in 2015, $13.21 million in 2016

Nuggets Get:
Brendan Haywood: $10.52 million in 2015, free agent in 2016
Draft Rights to Cedi Osman
Future Pick

In what has become mainstream media since the Nuggets drafted Emmanuel Mudiay in the lottery of the 2015 NBA Draft, many are under the belief the Nuggets will eventually move Lawson this offseason. Though the Nuggets will try to use Lawson in a bigger deal, if they decide it is just time to move on and are looking to save $12 million this coming season—this would be a good way to do it.

In this deal, the Cavaliers get a backup point guard for Irving who can start if (some would say when) he goes down with an injury. Lawson is an experienced veteran who would add a lot to the Cavaliers roster thanks to his ability to both score and defend.

Is this deal likely? Probably not, since Osman and a future draft pick are not likely enough to entice the Nuggets to deal Lawson for a straight salary dump. But hey, stranger things have happened—which is why this is in the longshot section.

Cavs-Kings

Cavs Get:
Rudy Gay: $12.4 million in 2015, $13.33 million in 2016, $14.26 million (player option) in 2017

Kings Get:
Brendan Haywood: $10.52 million in 2015, free agent in 2016
Joe Harris: $845,059 in 2015, $980,431 in 2016, restricted free agent in 2017
Draft Rights to Cedi Osman
Future Draft Pick

The Kings are rumored to have everyone on the table in trade talks right about now, and if they are looking to carve out some additional cap flexibility—Gay could be the odd man out. Turning 29-years old this year, Gay is a career 45.1 percent shooter from the field and 34.3 percent three-point land. He has averaged 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 35.9 minutes per night over the course of his career.

At 6’8” and 230 pounds, Gay has played primarily small forward—though some believe he could start at shooting guard next to a guy like James. Playing with the likes of Irving, James and Love would allow gay to fall into more of a complimentary role instead of having to be “the man,” something that could be very good for him at this stage of his career.

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Bob is the Founder, Site Director and Senior Writer of Cleveland Sports Zone. He has been writing about sports for over nine years thanks to his passion for Cleveland sports and a Journalism degree. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, ESPN, USA Today and other major sports networks.

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