Cavs clear the way for return of JamesThe Cleveland Cavaliers have created a path for LeBron James to come back home.
The Cavs created enough salary-cap space to offer the superstar free agent a maximum contract by agreeing to trade guard Jarrett Jack, swingman Sergey Karasev and center Tyler Zeller in a three-team deal with Brooklyn and Boston, according to a person familiar with the deals.
The moves are designed to open room under the salary cap so Cleveland can land the Akron-born James, a four-time league MVP.
With open roster spots, Cleveland isn’t done.
Not long after making the trade with the Celtics and Nets, the Cavs had exploratory discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves about a possible trade for three-time All-Star Kevin Love if James does return to Cleveland, said a source.
The Timberwolves would be looking for No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins to be part of any potential package from Cleveland in order to consider parting with Love, the person said.
Whatever the Cavs’ next move - with or without James - they could package their other assets, including future first-round picks, to make a run at other All-Star players.
In the three-team trade, Cleveland will receive guard Marcus Thornton from the Nets and send him, Zeller and a future first-round pick to the Celtics. Also, the Cavs are sending Jack and Karasev to the Nets.
Jack will make $6.3 million, Zeller $1.6 million and Karasev $1.4 million.
In trading those salaries, the Cavs have enough to give James a maximum $20.7 million contract. James, who played his first seven seasons with Cleveland before leaving as a free agent in 2010, was expected to meet with Miami President Pat Riley in Las Vegas before making a decision.
Under NBA rules, teams must abide by a salary cap set by the league. If the combined salaries of the team’s roster exceed the cap, teams are forced to a pay additional taxes.
Last season, the salary cap was approximately $59 million, and the league announced Wednesday that it will increase 7.5 percent to an all-time high of $63.065 million for the 2014-15 season.
The tax level - the point at which a team is penalized for exceeding the salary cap - for next season has increased by 7.1 percent to $76.829 million.
Jack’s first season with Cleveland didn’t go as he or the Cavs had hoped. He signed a four-year, $25 million deal last July after playing in Golden State. The Cavs counted on him being a leader for their young team, but it didn’t work out as Cleveland finished 33-49, missed the playoffs and fired Coach Mike Brown.