The Washington Post

The Cavaliers sure sound like they’re clearing the way for LeBron James to return to Cleveland

(NBAE/Getty Images)

One sticking point to LeBron James’s possible return to Cleveland via free agency is the fact that the Cavaliers, as currently constructed, don’t have enough salary cap space to give James a max contract unless they unload a few players. As The Post’s Neil Greenberg wrote Tuesday on Fancy Stats:

According to Spotrac, the Cavs have $16,825,195 in cap space for the 2014-15 season. However, it is widely reported James is seeking a max deal.  Under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the Heat can offer James a five-year maximum deal worth $127.7 million. Other teams are limited to offering a four-year contract, maxing out at $94.8 million. So how does Cleveland make the necessary cap space for James? It starts with finding a trade partner for Jarrett Jack. Jack signed a four-year, $25.2 million contract with Cleveland last season ($6.3 million cap figure) which included $19.4 million guaranteed. He averaged 9.5 points and 4.1 assists in his first season for the Cavs during the regular season while shooting just 41 percent from the field. It’s not a contract with a ton of value, but it does appear Brooklyn could be interested in Jack as a replacement for Shaun Livingston, who left for the greener pastures of Golden State.

Cleveland has three first round draft picks in the 2015 NBA draft, so it is feasible they package one of those in addition to [the Brooklyn Nets’] Thornton and the one year, $8.6 million remaining on his contract. Clearing both the Jack and Thornton contracts from the books would generate more than $23 million in cap space for this upcoming season – just enough to squeeze a max contract for James on the books.

Well, it appears the Cavaliers are about to do exactly that, as ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that Cleveland is on the verge of orchestrating a three-team deal with the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics:

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski says the Cavaliers still have eyes on free agency’s biggest prize.

The Cavaliers also reportedly are trying to lure one of James’s favorite teammates to Cleveland.

After spending the first 17 years of his Post career writing and editing, Matt and the printed paper had an amicable divorce in 2014. He's now blogging and editing for the Early Lead and the Post's other Web-based products.



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