At some time Monday the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to make a move, trading Andrew Bynum to a team that will turn around and waive him in the next 24-hours, saving themselves $6 million.
The only question is who is coming back to Cleveland.
The answer may be veteran swingman Richard Jefferson of the Utah Jazz, reports Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst at ESPN.
Sources said Utah Jazz veteran swingman Richard Jefferson has emerged as a new trade target for the Cavaliers after ongoing talks with the Los Angeles Lakers on a deal centered around the swap of former teammates Pau Gasol and Bynum remained at an impasse Friday.
A deal with Utah that would send Jefferson to Cleveland and likewise allow the Jazz to acquire and waive Bynum before the other half of his $12.3 million salary this season becomes guaranteed is one of three primary options for the Cavaliers. The other two, sources said Friday, are continuing talks with the Lakers this weekend in hopes of hashing out trade terms both teams can stomach, or electing to keep Bynum beyond Tuesday’s deadline and then reshopping him as a trade asset before the Feb. 20 trade deadline, or, if necessary, again in late June and early July.
While this “the Cavs will keep Bynum to trade him in the future” continues to be bandied about as an option I think that is just negotiating leverage — you really think Dan Gilbert wants to pay Bynum $6.2 million to see if they can get a better deal around the draft?
As noted before, the talks with the Lakers around Pau Gasol seem stalled as the Lakers want more than just the cap relief Bynum would provide (about $20 million for the Lakers, taxes included). Cleveland doesn’t want to send out a young prospect or a draft pick in this deal and that’s what the Lakers have sought. Plus the Lakers are not sold on the idea of throwing in the towel on this season, which is what trading Gasol would mean.
Which brings us to Jefferson, whose $11 million salary this season makes the trade work smoothly.
Jefferson started all 36 games for the Jazz and averages 10 points a night. At this point in his career Jefferson is a spot-up shooter — 44.7 percent of his shots this season have been a catch and shoot situation. He shoots a strong 39.8 percent from three on those, he’s pretty good in this role. He can come off screens, he can make plays in transition, but mostly now he works off the ball and knocks down shots.
Cleveland would use him at the three, although he sort of duplicates what Dion Waiters is supposed to do. Jefferson would be an upgrade over Earl Clark in that slot. Still, what Cleveland really needs is points in the paint (they are third lowest in the NBA in points in the paint per game) and Jefferson doesn’t give them that.
In the end it’s a deal Cleveland can get done. And may happen for that reason.