Reports suggest that the Cleveland Cavaliers might be looking at trading for Brooklyn Nets former All-Star forward Joe Johnson, as the team is having a difficult time in keeping last year’s roster throughout free agency and might be set to lose J.R. Smith.
The Cavaliers have already re-signed Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert, but are having a tough time in trying to do the same with Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova, two players which LeBron James is waiting for the Cavs to sign before he commits to another contract.
Unless the Cavaliers suddenly abandon all plans for an NBA title, they are going to bring both of them back and re-sign James to a higher contract. This would lead no cap money left for J.R. Smith’s requests, and the Cavs would have to seek a replacement capable of providing his 3-point sharpshooting when needed.
Joe Johnson might be the perfect solution if not for one big detail: his enormous salary. Johnson is set to earn more than $24 million 2015-2016, and Cleveland would desperately need some cap space to absorb that enormous salary otherwise they’ll find themselves equaling Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov in luxury tax spending.
Barring all players who are sympathized by LeBron, the Cavs could offer the rebuilding Nets two viable solutions. Iman Shumpert would return to New York after spending four years with the Knicks, clearing about $5 million in cap space, while another possible solution would be that of Brazilian center Anderson Varejao.
Varejao was a staple player for the Cavs in the last couple of years, but missed most of last season with an Achilles tendon tear. Cleveland has already found a good replacement for him in Russian center Timofey Mozgov, brought from Denver in a mid-season trade last year, who managed to post the best numbers of his career and was a solid performer during the playoff run. More importantly, he is younger and cheaper, being set to earn half of the $10 million which Varejao would have coming next season. The Brazilian will most probably turn out to be the one of the more expensive backups in the league should he stay.
Cleveland should be wary though that they are not receiving the All-Star Johnson, though he does ocassionaly show glimpses of that player and has a solid double figure production. He would be a much needed asset in case LeBron finds himself playing without Irving and Love again, as he would most certainly represent more of an offensive threat than J.R. Smith.
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