Draft night was a win for the Cleveland Cavaliers. You could say that at the five-minute mark of the entire night, and everything that came after the selection of Andrew Wiggins is just gravy for a franchise that was in desperate need of a high-potential, two-way wing player … and Wiggins fits the bill almost perfectly!
But that wasn’t all that took place for Cleveland on Thursday, June 26. The Cavaliers selected two additional players, both in the second round of the draft.
With Orlando’s second-round pick (acquired in June 2011), the Cavaliers selected Joe Harris out of the University of Virginia. At 22 years old, 6’6″, and 215 pounds, Harris is a shorter small forward with strong 3-point shot (40 percent last season).
He has good skills but could easily be considered a classic positional tweener.
A little later in the draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to trade for the 45th pick and selected Dwight Powell out of Stanford University. Powell doesn’t yet have the requisite strength to truly compete at center, but has a solid post game and is a high IQ player for his position (at least according to the NBA.com Draftboard).
Although Powell is an intriguing prospect for Cleveland, it is the trade itself that brings the most promise to Cleveland. David Griffin was able to send out the non-guaranteed contract of Alonzo Gee to the Charlotte Hornets for Brendan Haywood and the right to select Powell.
In and of itself, it appears like an incredibly ordinary trade, with the Cavaliers agreeing to take on the final guaranteed year of Haywood’s contract ($2 million) for the right to an additional draft pick. And on the surface, that is exactly what it is … but the wrinkle to this entire situation is Haywood’s contract.
In June 2012, the Dallas Mavericks used the amnesty clause to remove Haywood from their roster. At the time of the amnesty, Haywood would have been entering into the 2012-13 season with a salary of roughly $6.3 million.
Charlotte won the amnesty auction for Haywood’s service for a fraction of the price ($2 million annually), with Dallas paying the remaining salary.
Now, Haywood has just one guaranteed year remaining on his contract (2014-15), and a team option for 2015-16; with the team option being worth a total of $10,522,500, which gives the Cavaliers until Aug. 1, 2015 to waive.
In the summer of 2015, Haywood will basically function as a giant $10-plus million trade chip to allow for a very an financially unbalanced trade. If a team is wanting to save money next summer, the Cavaliers will now be one of the first teams that they contact.
This is the exact situation that allowed the Toronto Raptors to trade John Salmons to the Atlanta Hawks for Louis Williams and Lucas Nogueira. Salmons’ contract was only partially guaranteed for $1 million, but could be traded as if it was a $7 million contract.
With Atlanta desperately trying to save money for free agency, the Raptors were able to extract a solid young sixth man (recovering from a torn ACL), and a promising defensive center prospect.
And that’s exactly what Cleveland can hope to do next summer … and all because of an insignificant trade during the second round.