LeBron James is reportedly down to just two teams where his free agent decision is concerned, and one of them has reportedly agreed to a trade that would clear enough cap space to have the maximum salary available to sign him.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
ESPN sources say Brooklyn Nets on verge of acquiring Jarrett Jack from Cleveland in three-team deal
Boston is third team in deal will acquire Tyler Zeller from Cleveland as well as future first-rounder and Marcus Thornton from Nets
Three-team trade will see Nets acquire Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev from Cleveland. Boston gets Thornton, Zeller and a first
Trade can’t be completed until Thursday, but Cavs on brink of shedding contracts of Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller & Sergey Karasev in this deal
Those contracts the Cavaliers are sending out of town total more than $9.5 million for next season, with only Jack’s deal having guaranteed money beyond that in the form of $6.3 million for the year after that. It’s believed that Cleveland made this move purely to have the cap space necessary to sign James, should he indeed decide to leave Miami and return to the Cavaliers.
The Celtics get Thornton from the Nets, who can occasionally score in bunches and is on an expiring contract worth $8.5 million for next season. But their real prizes for facilitating the deal are Zeller, a productive center on a very inexpensive rookie contract, and a future first round pick from the Cavaliers.
Brooklyn, meanwhile, gets a serviceable veteran point guard in Jack who can help ease the pain of losing Shaun Livingston in free agency. Jack averaged 9.5 points and 4.1 assists in 28.2 minutes per contest in Cleveland last season.
But this trade was about Cleveland and its pursuit of LeBron James more than anything else. James is scheduled to meet with Heat president Pat Riley on Wednesday, and this move by the Cavaliers will undoubtedly add an additional layer of intrigue to what was already expected to be an extremely critical conversation.