Tag: Kevin Love

Antreas Christodoulou, Sasha Kaun

Report: Cavs likely to sign Russian center Sasha Kaun


The Cavs still haven’t worked out new deals with Tristan Thompson or J.R. Smith, but they appear to be close to signing another player who’s been on their radar for a while. Russian center Sasha Kaun, a second-round pick in 2008, looks to be on the verge of finally making the jump over to the NBA.

From Cleveland.com’s Chris Haynes:

Veteran Russian center Sasha Kaun embarked on a mini-tour of Cleveland on Monday, league sources informed Northeast Ohio Media Group.

His visit was for the purpose of house hunting, among other things, sources said.

Kaun, 30, and the Cavaliers have yet to reach an agreement. However, “it’s only a matter of time” before a deal is struck, according to a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations. The Cavaliers’ main focus is on locking up a longtime pact with restricted free agent Tristan Thompson.

Kaun is to depart town on Tuesday and it is anticipated that a deal will not be finalized before his exit, I’m told.

The Cavs don’t have much to spend on Kaun — other than a minimum deal, they have about $1.2 million left in their taxpayer midlevel exception (they used $2.1 million of it on Mo Williams). It’s also doubtful that Kaun will get much playing time in a crowded frontcourt that includes Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov, Anderson Varejao and (once they inevitably re-sign him) Thompson. But at age 30, if Kaun was ever going to make the leap over to the NBA, now’s the time to do it.

Report: Cavaliers offering J.R. Smith less than his player option would have paid

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six

J.R. Smith declined his $6,399,750 player option in search of a better contract.

He hasn’t found one yet.

Unsurprisingly, he probably can’t even break even.

Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com:

The Cavs have made him an offer. I hear it’s less than $6.4 million that he turned down.

The Cavaliers’ top priority, as decreed by LeBron James, is re-signing Tristan Thompson. But re-signing Smith would also help Cleveland. His 3-point shooting is particularly valuable given the open looks LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love create by drawing so much attention.

If the Cavaliers don’t keep Smith, they could offer only a minimum salary (or a smidge more to a player with fewer than eight years of experience) for a replacement. That’s not going to net a shooter as good as Smith, unless Ray Allen comes out of retirement.

So, Smith has a little leverage.

But Cleveland has much more.

Only the 76ers and Trail Blazers can offer Smith at least $6.4 million. I doubt either rebuilding team would.

The Cavaliers, armed with the Brendan Haywood trade exception, could trade for a replacement. Jamal Crawford is reportedly on their radar. They might have higher hopes with that exception, but a trade is a suitable fallback option.

One question the Cavaliers must ask themselves: Do they want to retain Smith for the lowest possible amount, or would they prefer to keep him happy? Smith has a history of sulking when things go poorly. Matching his player-option salary would allow him to save face. That might be worth the extra money (and luxury-tax payments).

Right now, though, Cleveland clearly doesn’t think so.

LeBron James: “Our No. 1 objective right now” is to get Tristan Thompson signed


Tristan Thompson is a restricted free agent who wants a max contract extension. The Cleveland Cavaliers are offering less than that. Considerably less according to some reports. The two sides are at an impasse and have dug in.

LeBron James just wants to see a deal get done.

LeBron both shares an agent with Thompson and doesn’t care about the tax bill Dan Gilbert would have to pay, he just wants to see his friend and teammate get paid. He didn’t phrase it that way, but he may as well have speaking to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

“Our No. 1 objective right now is to sign Tristan,” James said Thursday at Cedar Point amusement park. “He’s a huge part of our team. Short term and long term he makes our team more dangerous….

“Things need to be worked out from his side and the Cavs, but we need him back,” James said. “I think our front office has done a great job this summer. The next step is to get Tristan done.”

This week Thompson’s agent ratcheted up the rhetoric, saying Thompson would consider playing next season for the $6.8 million qualifying offer but then would be gone for sure in 2017 as a restricted free agent. The two sides have until Halloween to figure out a contract extension or that is what happens.

This is an unprecedented situation because of the coming spike in the salary cap due to the flood of money from the new television deal about to wash over the league (the $70 million salary cap this season is expected to jump up to around $90 million next season). Thompson is a young big man with a skill — he is an excellent offensive rebounder. Last season he averaged 8.5 points and 8.0 rebounds a game, that bounced to 9.6 points and 10.8 rebounds in the postseason, where due to an injury to Kevin Love he was pressed into service.

Look at those numbers and you say Thompson is not a max player, he should take the reported less than $80 million on the table (he wants $94 million over five years). Most years, Thompson would have little leverage and probably takes the deal. There are no teams willing to give him a big offer sheet that would force the Cavaliers to match it, and all that money he would lose would not be something he could get back.

But this isn’t most years. Because the salary cap is going to spike next season, the max salary numbers will also and so Thompson can make his lost money back. What’s more, with an expected two-thirds of the teams in the league going to have max contract money available next summer and only a handful of decent free agents, some guys are going to get max deals that don’t necessarily deserve it. Thompson is one of those — he would get paid next summer.

The concern for the Cavaliers is the luxury tax. After re-signing Kevin Love and LeBron James, plus bringing in Mo Williams and others the Cavs are $4 million over the tax line right now. Look at it this way: If Thompson plays for the qualifying offer the Cavaliers tax bill would be around $13 million (in addition to the team’s salary), but pay him the max and that jumps to $35 million. And that is with J.R. Smith still out there unsigned and adding to the bill.

I expect the two sides to reach a deal before the deadline, maybe before camp. But because Thompson has some leverage it’s not a certainty, and Thompson’s agent can play the long game.