Cavaliers reportedly trading Alonzo Gee to Pelicans, which could lead to Omer Asik trade

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LeBron James signing with the Cavaliers might push Chris Bosh to the Rockets.

And not just for the reason you think.

Of course, LeBron leaving the Heat gives Bosh more reason to move on. He outwardly enjoyed playing with LeBron in Miami, and that’s no longer an option.

But for the Rockets to make Bosh a credible contract offer – not a max deal, mind you – they must trade Omer Asik.

As we’ve covered, the previously reported Asik-to-the-New Orleans trade won’t work without the Pelicans stretching Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson or Eric Gordon (likely not an option) or another team helping them.

The Cavaliers, their plans set with LeBron, might be that other team.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gee was originally headed to Charlotte for Brendan Hayward in a trade agreed upon draft night, but the Hornets might not mind altering the deal. Gee has has an unguaranteed contract, according to ShamSports.com, and I suspect Charlotte might have just waived him. However, the Hornets might have wanted Gee for his value in a trade, and if so, they’ll probably want some compensation for not getting him.

To the Cavaliers, it makes little difference where Gee goes. They still get Brendan Haywood, who has a low $2,213,688 salary this year and then has a fully unguaranteed $10,522,500 salary for the following season. In a year, he’ll be a very valuable trade chip if Cleveland is willing to add salary.

So why would Cleveland go the trouble of trading Gee to the Pelicans rather than the Hornets?

New Orleans must be sending the Cavaliers an asset for Gee. The Pelicans would want Gee to facilitate the Asik trade.

A simple way would be trading Austin Rivers or Alexis Ajinca, both on guaranteed contracts, to the Cavaliers. Cleveland could accept either and still have room to give LeBron the max.

The Cavaliers might not value either Rivers or Ajinca, though, so New Orleans might have to go another route.

Instead of creating enough cap room to absorb Asik, the Pelicans could aggregate enough salary to trade for him. In this salary range, teams can receive 150 percent plus $100,000 of outgoing salary in a trade.

New Orleans already has Melvin Ely, Luke Babbitt and Jeff Withey on unguaranteed contracts. Add Gee in a trade package, and that’s almost enough to get Asik.

Cleveland has two other players on fully unguaranteed contracts too – Scotty Hopson and Matthew Dellavedova. Adding either to New Orleans’ trade package for Asik would make the deal work. So, I strongly suspect the Cavaliers will send Hopson or Dellavedova to the Pelicans, too.

Then, New Orleans can make the Asik trade. Technically, it would be structured as three-way trade with Cleveland, New Orleans and Houston, because Gee and Hopson/Dellavedova couldn’t be immediately aggregated in another large deal. Maybe the Hornets get involved to make it a four-way trade and clear everything up at once, but that’s not as essential.

One more catch: Ely can’t be traded with other players until Sunday. But if everything is lined up in advance, the Rockets could complete this trade and still have time to sign Bosh and then match Chandler Parsons’ offer sheet.

There’s a lot are a lot of moving pieces in this Gee trade, but here’s the simple reality: LeBron going to Cleveland makes it easier for the Rockets to unload salary and pay Bosh.