The Cavaliers may be looking to add a better version of J.R. Smith.
The Clippers are looking for a way to turn Jamal Crawford and his contract into something bigger that would let them chase a better center to replace DeAndre Jordan.
Which is why the Clippers and Cavaliers are discussing a Jamal Crawford for the contract of Brendan Haywood trade, reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.
The idea of the Cavaliers trading for Joe Johnson comes with Cleveland having to likely ship out Anderson Varejao as well, then Dan Gilbert would have a steep tax bill to pay (the salary plus tax would be in the $200 million range). J.R. Smith is erratic.
Which is why the Crawford-for-Haywood trade could work for both sides.
Crawford was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year two years ago. However, last year he shot just 32.7 percent from three and his game overall took a step back (although his PER of 16.3 was above the league average and better than Smith and Johnson). Crawford is owed just $5.6 million next season, so the Cavs would get better — or at least more steady — help off the bench and save money (the Clippers would need to include non-guaranteed contracts like Lester Hudson’s in the deal to make the numbers work).
For the Clippers, it’s all about $10.5 million, fully unguaranteed contract of Haywood and flipping that for another asset. The Clippers can get a better player along their now-depleted front line for Haywood’s contract than they can for Crawford outright. (If the Clippers just waive Haywood they would drop down in the range to have a full mid-level exception of about $5.7 million to give out, but that’s no better than just trading Crawford.)
The Clippers will count on Lance Stephenson to replace Crawford’s production.
Haywood’s contract becomes guaranteed on Aug. 1, so as long as whatever team waives him by July 31 saves all that cash. Sadly, the piece of paper with Haywood’s name on it is worth far more than Haywood on the court right now.
The Cavaliers and Nets were reportedly discussing a trade for Joe Johnson.
Brendan Haywood, whose contract is fully unguaranteed and therefore could be immediately waived with no cap hit, would be the centerpiece going to Brooklyn. But he alone doesn’t make enough to match Johnson’s salary. So, Anderson Varejao would also likely be involved.
One problem: Nobody wants Varejao, who is owed $9,638,554, $10,361,446 ($9,361,446 guaranteed) and $10,000,000 ($0 guaranteed) the next three seasons.
Signing Varejao to a contract extension before the season seemed silly. It became even worse when Varejao suffered a season-ending Achilles tear in December.
Now, Varejao – who turns 33 before the season – is overpaid and damaged goods. A trade that depends on some mystery team taking him probably won’t happen.
Maybe the Nets agree to take him in order to dump Johnson and lower their luxury-tax bill. Or maybe the Cavaliers want Johnson so badly, they send draft picks to entice Brooklyn – or a third team like the the 76ers – to take Varejao.
So, I wouldn’t call this dead yet. But don’t hold your breath.
Dan Gilbert is opening up the checkbook for the Cavaliers this 0ff-season. He maxed out Kevin Love, and once Tristan Thompson and LeBron James are re-signed (and they will be) the Cavaliers will have the highest payroll in the Association. And a healthy tax bill to boot.
But Gilbert may not be done spending.
The Cavaliers have had conversations with the Brooklyn Nets about Joe Johnson and his $24.9 million contract next year, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are considering trading for Brooklyn Nets star Joe Johnson with their Brendan Haywood contract chip, sources told ESPN.com
Haywood has a $10.5 million nonguaranteed contract if waived before Aug. 1, an asset that has gained value over the last several days as other teams use up their cap space. The Cavs have been looking for perimeter help, and Johnson would certainly provide a major boost as an additional scoring and shooting option.
Haywood’s deal alone would not be enough to balance the salaries and make the trade work (under the CBA guidelines), it would take about another $10 million — which is why Anderson Varejao’s name has come up. He is owed $9.6 million next year, which puts this deal in the ballpark. Varejao played in just 26 games last season due to an Achilles injury, but he averaged 9.8 points on 55.5 percent shooting, plus grabbed 6.5 rebounds a game before going down. He’s a solid NBA big man when healthy.
Windhorst suggests the Cavaliers interest in David West could be tied to losing Varejao.
Brooklyn is looking to trade both Johnson and Deron Williams this summer, they realize it’s time to blow up what they have, save money and rebuild. Johnson is the one that is far more likely to be traded. While he will make $24.9 million next season it is the last year of that deal. Plus he still provides value on the court, scoring 14.4 points a game and shooting 35.9 percent from three last season. He’s not one of the best shooting guards in the league like he was, but he can still help a team.
We’ll see if the Cavs are willing to go here, but they are talking.
As David Blatt fought off questions about his use of 7-foot-1 center Timofey Mozgov, Steve Kerr put it succinctly:
“It’s not a series for bigs.”
The Warriors and Cavaliers have combined to give players 6-foot-9 and taller just 12% of the minutes in the 2015 NBA Finals. That’s the lowest mark in the last 44 Finals and second-lowest for years Basketball-Reference.com has minutes data for the Finals (1955, 1957-2015):
And it’s not just one team dragging down the average.
This is the first NBA Finals in the sample where both teams are under 19%. The Cavaliers are at 11% and the Warriors 13%:
Game 5 took small ball to another level.
Mozgov played just nine minutes for the Cavaliers. Kendrick Perkins (6-foot-10) and Brendan Haywood (7-foot) didn’t get off the bench, and of course, neither did the injured Kevin Love (6-foot-10) and Anderson Varejao (6-foot-10).
The Warriors didn’t go big much more often. David Lee (6-foot-9) played nine minutes as a reserve, and Festus Ezeli (6-foot-11) got three. After starting every playoff game and nearly all his regular-season games to this point, Andrew Bogut (7-foot) didn’t play at all. James Michael McAdoo (6-foot-9) and Ognjen Kuzmic (7-foot) got their usual DNPs.
Single-game minutes data in the Finals goes back to only 1982 (though Game 1 in 1984 is missing). But that’s still a 34-year span.
In Game 5, Cleveland and Golden State posted the No. 1 and No. 2 lowest percentage of minutes given to players 6-foot-9 and taller. In fact, the 2015 Finals has produced the seven lowest scores in the sample:
Going small is a weapon Golden State and Cleveland have deployed this season. They’re both comfortable playing this way.
The Warriors kicked up a notch by starting Game 4 small, and the Cavaliers responded in Game 5 by going small more often. It resulted in a loss, but Blatt sounds as if he might stick with the strategy.
Will anything stop this arms race toward tininess?
Amidst the high-profile injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, it’s easy to forget that the Cavaliers have also been without veteran big man Anderson Varejao for most of the year. Varejao suffered a torn left Achilles in December and has been out ever since. Chatter has persisted that he might return during the Finals, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein shot that down yet again on Sunday:
It would help the Cavs on the glass and in the paint to get Varejao back, but it probably wouldn’t change the outcome of the series much. The loss of Irving means Cleveland has no go-to scoring options outside of LeBron James, and that’s too big a deficit to overcome. Varejao doesn’t change that. Given that he just signed a three-year, $30 million extension in October, it’s worth taking a long-term approach with him, rather than playing him in a Finals series they aren’t going to win anyway.