The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the most win-now of win-now modes a franchise could possibly achieve. LeBron James is at the tail-end of his prime, the Eastern Conference still fails to provide a decent challenge, and even holding the best record in the conference was not enough to save head coach David Blatt from a mid-season firing. Owner Dan Gilbert is about to pay a positively Prokhorov-ian luxury tax bill.
The Cavs also have a massive trade exception. Trade exceptions sound complicated but can be explained rather simply in terms of the New Orleans Pelicans and Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland currently holds a trade exception of $10.5 million, acquired when they traded away Brendan Haywood last July. The Pelicans can send Cleveland any combination of players with a current year contract of $10.5 million to Cleveland and not receive salary back.
Tyreke Evans contract this season is $10.7 million. It doesn't work. Trade exceptions cannot be combined with other players (aggregated in CBA terms). However, Omer Asik is making $9.2 million and would fit within the Haywood trade exception.
Wait, Omer Asik?!?
Windhorst: Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik are also some players on the #Cavs radar when it come to trades.— ESPN Cleveland (@ESPNCleveland) February 9, 2016
Yes. The Cavs are reportedly interested in Tyreke Evans AND Omer Asik. That doesn't mean necessarily they are interested in both of them as a package, but it could mean that too. What if the Cavs do want both Evans and Asik? What does a potential transaction look like?
Well, the ESPN Trade Machine doesn't completely comprehend trade exceptions. So, part one of this is Omer Asik into the Brendan Haywood exception. It is a separate transaction in and of itself. In the process the Pelicans create a $9.2 million trade exception of their own, which would count against the cap this summer and expire in February. Of course, such exceptions can be renounced so the Pelicans could also gain nearly $10 million in cap space this summer (Asik's contract increases to $9.9 million for 2016-17) if they chose to renounce the exception.
The second part is more interesting. The Cavs could do this trade, sending out Anderson Varejao ($9.3 million of his 2016-17 contract is guaranteed) as a second transaction.
This situation costs the Cavs the least in terms of assets, but they take on the remaining three years and $34.7 million of Omer Asik's contract. While Asik's contract is considered by some to be the least tradeable contract in the league three years and $34.7 million is a drop in the bucket compared to what Timofey Mozgov will demand in free agency this summer. (Did you know those two have just 12 days difference in age?)
A different, more complex option, costs the Cavs more in talent but keeps their trade exception intact.
Will the Cavs entertain either of these options? Will a third team jump in to help facilitate? No one knows. The report is originally from Windhorst, who has long had ties within the Cleveland organization. These leaks did not come from inside the Pelicans front office.
Either move is a win for the Pelicans long term. The first option creates $9.7 million ($1 million more if they waive Varejao) in additional cap space this summer while wiping away Asik's contract. The second option creates $7.5 million along with the possibility of re-signing Mozgov to a long term deal (which would wipe that cap space away) with his Bird Rights.
Moving Asik's contract at the cost of Evans and paying Varejao for one season is a far lower price than anyone anticipated. I suspect the Cavs might be asking for additional assets (picks) from Dell Demps to complete the transaction. Stand firm Dell and do not hand over the 2016 First Round pick!