When the Cavaliers traded three non-guaranteed deals to the Celtics in exchange for Keith Bogans just a couple of days ago, it was believed to be a wise move aimed at putting the team in position to add even more talent next summer.
Bogans has $5.5 million in non-guaranteed money owed to him for the 2015-16 season, and that contract, combined with the $10.5 million in non-guaranteed money that same season which remains on Brendan Haywood’s deal, was believed to be something that Cleveland could use as a powerful trade chip to acquire another max-level player once this upcoming season is finished.
As it turns out, that wasn’t the plan after all.
Cleveland traded Bogans and a 2018 second round pick to the Sixers on Saturday, in exchange for Philadelphia’s 2015 second round pick, which has protections assigned to it. Philadelphia confirmed the details in an official release.
The Cavaliers will get a $5.3 million trade exception, but it’s not something that can be combined (with Haywood’s deal, for example) in order to acquire additional players.
The move gives the Cavs a $5.3 million trade exception without taking up a roster spot.
Bogans was just acquired on Thursday in exchange for four players and two second-round picks, but one league source with knowledge of the situation indicated the Cavs never had much interest in keeping Bogans on the roster. By moving him now, they’ll have one year to use the exception.
The exception cannot be combined with any other players, meaning they cannot combine it with Brendan Haywood’s non-guaranteed contract next summer. But the Cavs feel Haywood’s $10.5 million non-guaranteed contract by itself will be large enough to obtain any player they could realistically pursue.
So, why go to all this trouble if you’re Cleveland? To stay out of luxury tax territory this season.
The move is a cost-cutting one, but also keeps an eye on future flexibility, as well. The new collective bargaining agreement has a nasty repeater tax penalty in place for teams who exceed the cap in three of the four previous seasons, so you want to prevent that clock from starting for as long as possible.
Tax-paying teams also face restrictions in terms of what they can do from a roster maneuverability standpoint, which include not getting to use the bi-annual exception, having a smaller mid-level exception than non-tax-payers, and being prohibited from receiving a player in a sign-and-trade transaction.
By dealing Bogans, Cleveland creates a trade exception, stays under the tax line, and leaves an open spot on the roster.
New GM David Griffin may not have had much to do with getting LeBron James to return home, or even acquiring Kevin Love to play alongside him. But moves like these show that he clearly knows what he’s doing.