Report: Cavs looking to trade Haywood, first-rounder for playmaker

by Will Gibson

The NBA Draft is next Thursday, and the Cavaliers own the No. 24 overall pick — for now, at least. The team is reportedly looking to trade that pick along with Brendan Haywood’s large non-guaranteed contract, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, with a playmaking guard the desired return.

From Windy:

Haywood’s $10.5 million contract is not guaranteed for next season if he’s waived by Aug. 2. This could be attractive to a team looking to either offload salary now or use it as part of another deal that could be executed during free agency in July.

The Cavs have tested the market in swapping Haywood either for a player or a future draft pick, sources said. On their wish list is a facilitating guard they can bring in to either back up or play alongside Kyrie Irving.

As WFNY’s Jacob Rosen has written, the Cavs are already facing a dicey salary cap situation that will take them well above the luxury tax threshold, and trading Haywood for a similarly salaried player would only make the financial math trickier.

Any deal involving the first-round pick could not be realized until after the draft, as the Cavs traded their 2016 first-rounder to the Minnesota Timberwolves1 in the Kevin Love deal. Per the so-called Stepien Rule — named after former Cavs owner Ted Stepien, who traded away seven future first-round picks in less than three years — teams are forbidden from trading first-rounders in consecutive years.

Windhorst also reports that 30-year-old Russian center Sasha Kaun could be involved in such a trade. The Cavs drafted Kaun in the second round in 2008 and still hold the former University of Kansas player’s NBA rights. He has played the last seven seasons for CSKA Moscow, but is currently a free agent with eyes on coming to America. Kaun was said to have retired, but he says that he is only finished playing in Russia, and perhaps Europe, but that he is open to an NBA opportunity.2

The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cavs in the Finals thanks in large part to their team-wide playmaking ability. Cleveland GM David Griffin took note, especially with how his team’s offense struggled when operating through anyone other than LeBron James.

“The one thing that we did see in Golden State, and it was something that was very difficult for us to deal with, is they have an incredibly versatile team of multiple facilitating playmakers,” Griffin said. “That’s something we’re going to continue to work upon. The more playmaking facilitators you have that know how to play the game, the better off you are, and I think you saw the value of that in the team that ultimately did win.”

It is thus far unclear which players the Cavaliers are specifically targeting, if any, but it sounds like the team is looking for a guard who can provide offensive creativity to lessen the offensive burden shouldered by the team’s stars, specifically James and Irving.

  1. Minnesota later traded it to the Philadelphia 76ers.
  2. Said Kaun: “As of now I’m done playing in Russia and pretty sure I’m done in Europe, but I’m not done, done.”

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