BY SPENCER DAVIES
The Cavaliers were able to find a trade partner for Brendan Haywood’s contract late Sunday night, which means general manager David Griffin can get back to business.
David Griffin finally did it.
After months of searching for a team that would take on the $10.5 million non-guaranteed contract of Brendan Haywood, the Cavaliers’ general manager finally found a buyer during the dwindling hours of Sunday–the Portland Trail Blazers.
Cleveland has traded Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller to Portland, league source tells Yahoo Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 27, 2015
The agreed deal — first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports— sent Haywood and Mike Miller, along with two second-round draft picks in 2019 and 2020, to Portland in exchange for two trade exceptions worth $13.5 million combined. The Trail Blazers are also reportedly expected to waive Haywood and negotiate a buyout with Miller.
Essentially, Cleveland and Portland both won in this trade. The Trail Blazers received a couple of draft picks that can be used in the draft itself or used as assets in a potential future trade.
As for the Cavaliers, they were able to both receive a valuable trade exception to use down the line and rid themselves of two veterans who didn’t get a lick of playing time, especially Haywood — and in the case of Miller, it just wasn’t working out for either side.
The veteran sharpshooter averaged a career-low 13.5 minutes per game and only played in nine of the team’s 20 post-season games. From the beginning of the season, Miller, one of LeBron James’ favorite teammates, seemed like he had lost a step. Mr. “Let it Fly” wasn’t his usual self from the perimeter, as he shot a career-worst 32.7 percent beyond the arc and was a defensive liability off the bench. And while it is usually a cardinal rule to not go against James and his buddies, even he agreed and knew it was the right decision.
Now, what this means is the Cavaliers, who have yet to officially re-sign Tristan Thompson in addition to Matthew Dellavedova and J.R. Smith, have a much clearer picture moving forward through the rest of the offseason.The contract negotiations will most likely resurface in the coming weeks for all three.
If I had to guess, Smith would be the first domino to fall. He recently admitted regretting opting out of his previous contract, recently noting that Cleveland is the team that gives him the best chance at achieving an NBA championship. A drawback for him, however, is that he’ll likely still end up taking a one-year deal and make less than what he would’ve had he cashed in on his $6 million player option. But that’s what happens when you gamble on yourself without having a contingency plan.
Dellavedova’s situation strikes me as an interesting one. It’s been a priority for Griffin to assure the scrappy Aussie guard doesn’t go elsewhere, yet Delly’s agent is apparently asking Cleveland for $4 million per year. That’s a lot of money for a player who will most likely see his minutes docked due to the signing of Mo Williams. Yet in the same breath, the free agent market has been set ablaze by quite a few contracts excessive in worth correlating with the type of players who signed them. So even if you balk at the idea of Dellavedova being overpaid, as I have already, understand that it might have to be a necessary evil and will probably happen (EDITOR’S NOTE: Dellavedova reportedly agreed to a one-year, $1.2 million deal Monday afternoon).
Speaking of a necessary evil, the final component of the madness that is the Cavaliers’ offseason is an inevitable return no matter how it happens: Tristan Thompson. Only three days into the moratorium period, it was reported that Kevin Love had re-signed with the team and only moments later Thompson was very close to doing the same. As everyone knows, this was not the case and both sides still haven’t come close to striking a deal.
Thompson’s agency has been playing major hardball with Cleveland’s front office, and it hasn’t been working. The Cavaliers know that the ball is in their court when it comes to this situation, because Thompson hasn’t fielded an offer that’s anything close to what his agency expected.
What happens then if this continues? Two possible scenarios: The two sides finally agree to a deal and Thompson stays a Cavalier, or Thompson signs an offer sheet with another team and Griffin matches it — which means Thompson stays a Cavalier. If I had to guess, I’d pick the first option. Thompson is an incredible rebounder and a rapidly-improving defender, but no other team will offer him more than Cleveland. When all is said and done, the best situation he could be possibly in is where he’s been all along.