While many want to parlay the recent trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies into a cap play in exchange for depth, Grantland’s Zach Lowe chimes in with his (always educated) take:
“I was as guilty as anyone this morning in burying the lede on Twitter, in part because it makes sense to focus on the fringe title contender instead of the sad lottery team,” writes Lowe. “So here’s the lede: This is a pretty great deal for Cleveland, and the greatness is in the details of the future first-round pick Memphis is sending. The Cavaliers had about $10.35 million in cap space before this trade, and they stood as one of just three teams (Phoenix and Houston being the others) with enough cap space to take on significant Memphis salary. Cleveland, of course, has to pay a prorated portion of those salaries, and that kind of spending has a price: the draft pick.”
In exchange for cap relief in present day, Chris Grant and the Cavaliers are wagering that the Grizzlies — who are strapped for cash as it is — will not be able to keep their core together into the 2018 or 2019 season. If said core gets blown up, Memphis could potentially revert back to the team that traded Pau Gasol to the Lakers.
The pick Cleveland received today is actually a slightly lesser version of the one Toronto sent to Houston in the Kyle Lowry deal. And they received it for Jon Leuer, a player who has struggled mightily with confidence while bouncing between Cleveland and Canton. It’s a pick similar to the one that many wanted in a potential deal for Anderson Varejao, but one that may take a few seasons of cost-cutting in Memphis before it arrives in Cleveland.
“A lot of first-round picks that change hands work so that the team sending the pick doesn’t have to actually send it if it’s high in the draft (lottery protected, or top-10 protected), with another rule that if the pick isn’t sent after a few years, the team can just send a second-rounder instead.” writes Lowe. “Cleveland got a much better pick than that today.”