C Anderson Varejao’s recent quadriceps injury not only cost the Cavs the services of their mostly likely representative at next month’s NBA All-Star Game, it also reduced the chances Cleveland would be major players at the trade deadline. As the Akron Beacon-Journal’s Jason Lloyd sees it, the Cavs’ big hope for the future looks awfully familiar.
With Varejao now removed from the equation, various front office executives around the league polled this week believe the Cavs’ plan will remain unchanged. They have tried unsuccessfully for three years to rent their cap space to another team willing to give up a first-round pick in an effort to shed an unwanted contract, and that will continue to be the plan for the next month. They have Luke Walton’s $6 million expiring contract and about $10 million in cap space to shop as a few teams around the league begin scrambling to avoid the league’s stiffer cap penalties. The Cavs’ parameters, however, are a little more complex than they were the last couple of years. With the summer of 2014 quickly approaching, the length of a contract the Cavs will absorb is now limited.
Executives and agents around the league are convinced the Cavaliers won’t do anything to jeopardize their ability to sign a free agent to a max contract during the summer of 2014, when LeBron James can again become a free agent. As fans in Northeast Ohio continue to howl and remain divided about the possibility of his return, more and more people around the league believe there is a strong possibility James will indeed return to Cleveland after next season.
The Cavs are well aware of this, too, and won’t take on a bad contract if it compromises their cap space in two years. That means any bad contract they would obtain in a potential trade would have to expire after next season. It doesn’t make a deal impossible, but it dramatically reduces the field — and it decreases the price the Cavs can command since their future obligations would be brief.