MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks have used the NBA’s hardship exception to sign guard Jared Cunningham to a 10-day contract, an addition that replenishes the team’s injury-ravaged backcourt.
General manager John Hammond announced the signing on Wednesday. Cunningham most recently played for Idaho in the NBA Developmental League.
The 6-foot-4 Cunningham also appeared in 40 games this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 2.6 points in 8.9 minutes a game before being traded on Feb. 18 to Orlando, where he was waived.
Cunningham was drafted in 2012 in the first round with the 24th pick by the Cavaliers out of Oregon State.
The Bucks have lost guards Michael Carter-Williams and O.J. Mayo to season-ending injuries in recent weeks. Guard Greivis Vasquez hasn’t played since late November following right ankle surgery.
The Cleveland Cavaliers wanted more shooting, wanted more depth along the front line.
They have reportedly gotten a little more of both in the form of Channing Frye — but it came at the price of long-time Cavalier Anderson Varejao, who is headed to Portland in a three-team trade. Sam Amick of the USA Today broke the news and had some of the details.
Here’s how it shakes out.
The Cavaliers get Frye, who was only averaging 5.2 points per game in Orlando but is shooting 39.7 percent from three and could give Cleveland more floor spacing shooting and options for Tyronn Lue with smaller lineups. Frye is a solid veteran who is an okay defender (when focused), but he doesn’t spend time in the paint. The Cavaliers targeted him. But it’s an emotional loss to have to send out Varejao and Frye two seasons and $15.3 million on his contract after this one.
Portland will get Varejao, but multiple reports have him being waived instantly. Varejao gets a $1.7 million trade kicker, but the Blazers will stretch Varejao’s money owed ($7.4 million next season) over five seasons so not to take the big cap hit. Portland gets and 2018 first round pick from the Cavaliers for taking on that contract.
Under NBA rules, Varejao cannot re-sign with Cleveland this season.
The Magic will waive Jared Cunningham and with all this save money — they get a second round pick and could have more than $40 million in cap space this summer.
The Cavaliers reportedly want to trade Joe Harris for a second-round pick.
This won’t help.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
This might cause the Cavaliers to waive Harris. He’ll become a free agent this summer, and if Cleveland doesn’t plan to keep him, why not just drop him now if he’s out for the season? His salary is guaranteed, so he’d still get paid and count against the cap and luxury tax. But the Cavs would open a roster spot.
It’s obviously a more difficult question if the Cavaliers have interest in re-signing him this offseason. They can make him a restricted free agent.
Though another team could gain his matching rights by trading for him and extending a qualifying offer, a season-ending injury would probably suffocate the trade market for Harris – unless Cleveland attaches a pick to dump him. That could be an option for the Cavaliers, who’d reduce their impending luxury-tax bill by $3,356,647 by trading Harris for no returning salary rather than him clearing waivers.
Harris has potential as a 3-and-D shooting guard. But he doesn’t defend well enough to justify his good, not great, outside shooting. At least one of those skills will have to improve for the 24-year-old to become rotation-worthy.
This news also makes it more likely Cleveland keeps Jared Cunningham, whose salary becomes fully guaranteed Sunday. Still, the Cavs could waive Cunningham and attempt to re-sign him on a 10-day contract to keep their options open.
What will keep the Cavaliers, who are an East-best 9-3, from winning the conference?
Probably nothing short of injury.
But we’re going to see whether injury is enough. Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert have yet to play this season, and J.R. Smith missed a few games.
Now, Timofey Mozgov and Mo Williams will also miss more time.
Center Timofey Mozgov experienced a strained right deltoid during the second quarter of last night’s game against Milwaukee at The Q. Additional examination and MRI today at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health confirmed the strain. Mozgov will be OUT approximately 10 days to two weeks.
Guard Mo Williams missed last night’s game vs the Bucks and received additional examination and MRI today at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, which showed posterior right ankle inflammation, along with continued soreness. He is listed as OUT for tomorrow’s game at The Q against Atlanta and doubtful for Monday’s contest vs. Orlando, also at The Q.
If Mozgov returns on schedule, he’ll miss four to five games. Cleveland’s upcoming schedule:
- Saturday: vs. Hawks
- Monday: vs. Magic
- Wednesday: at Raptors
- Nov. 28: at Hornets
- Dec. 1 vs. Wizards
Tristan Thompson could move into the starting lineup, and as last year’s playoffs showed, he can handle a bigger role. Thompson (24.8) was already playing more minutes per game than Mozgov (20.8). Anderson Varejao will likely receive more playing time, and he might start if David Blatt wants to keep Thompson coming off the bench. Sasha Kaun could also join the rotation.
Williams had done a stellar job replacing Irving in the starting lineup. Matthew Dellavedova, who started against the Bucks last night, will likely start as long as Williams as out. Dellavedova starting points to Thompson also starting, because those two share such good chemistry. When Dellavedova sits, Jared Cunningham likely relieves him.
The Cavaliers have seven players competing for regular-season roster spots behind Cleveland’s 13 guaranteed salaries:
Who will last once the Cavs trim their roster to the regular season limit of 15?
Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:
The Cleveland Cavaliers will keep a full 20-man training camp roster until the final day of camp, team sources reveal.
The Eastern Conference champs will go into the regular season on Oct. 27 carrying 14 players, not 15
The team isn’t totally against taking on 15 by adding two roster hopefuls, but I’m told it would take an extraordinary effort on the part of the other invites to make that a possibility.
Cunningham, who leads Cleveland with 13.0 points per game in the preseason, is the clear favorite to land the final spot. He’s shooting just 40% from the field and 25% on 3-pointers, but his team lead in preseason minutes shows how closely the Cavs want to evaluate him. The No. 24 pick in the 2012 hasn’t shown much in 40 games over three seasons with the Mavericks, Hawks,Kings and Clippers, but Cleveland is clearly intrigued.
I thought the Cavaliers would also keep Cook, who could provide point guard depth with Kyrie Irving injured. An extra point guard behind Mo Williams and Matthew Dellavedova would be particularly helpful with Iman Shumpert also sidelined, allowing Williams to play more guard. Cook, who went undrafted out of Duke, has enough savvy to be a third point guard in the NBA.
These seven players’ contracts don’t become guaranteed until Jan. 10. So, if the Cavs are ready to sign Tristan Thompson, they can just waive someone without paying him for the rest of the season.
The biggest reason to carry 14 is to save money rather than paying a 15th while he’s on the roster.
Maybe some of that savings will go toward increasing Thompson’s offer.