The Cavaliers have been discussed as a trade partner with the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic as facilitators in a trade involving Dwight Howard, but there is no substance to the talks and no deal is remotely close to being concluded, a league source with knowledge of the talks confirmed Wednesday.
ESPN.com reported Wednesday that the Cavs have moved ahead of the Houston Rockets as a facilitator in a deal with the Lakers and Magic, but a league source maintained this is all a leverage tactic to get the Rockets to up their offer for Howard.
The Rockets remain the only team in the league with both the assets and desire to acquire Howard outright. The Lakers need a third team to get something done because of their cap constraints and lack of desirable assets and the Brooklyn Nets are out of any trade talks until the middle of January.
The Rockets, meanwhile, still haven’t signed any of their three first-round picks from last month’s draft, hoping to at least include some — if not all — in a future deal for Howard. Once the players sign their rookie contracts, they cannot be traded for 30 days.
The Cavaliers to this point have not seemed inclined to include any of their young players in any potential deals. That includes Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller and reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving, who is essentially an untouchable.
The same rule applies to the Cavs: Waiters and Zeller aren’t eligible to be traded until Aug. 5, a full 30 days after signing their rookie deals.
Cavs General Manager Chris Grant left the Las Vegas summer league this week earlier than scheduled, but it was so he could return to Cleveland in time for the surgery on Irving’s fractured right hand. It had absolutely nothing to do with any advancing trade talks, a league source said. Irving had successful surgery on his right hand at the Cleveland Clinic and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
In an intriguing twist, the Rockets were believed to be incredibly high on Zeller, whom the Cavs selected 17th overall. They had three picks in the middle of the first round, and had two chances at him before the Cavs traded up to No. 17. Yet they never selected him.
The belief of at least one front-office official involved in the trade talks is that the Rockets were selecting players the Magic liked in an effort to get a deal done.
The Cavs first surfaced as a potential home for Andrew Bynum when he recently listed Cleveland as a destination he’d consider when his contract expires at the end of the season. It would be stunning for a player to leave the Lakers and sign with the Cavs and the report was widely dismissed initially on the simple basis that the Cavs are one of the handful of teams that has the cap space to sign him.
In truth, Bynum and Cavs coach Byron Scott have a close, personal relationship that has grown over the years as a result of their mutual ties to the Lakers. One source with knowledge of the All-Star center’s thinking said Bynum respects Scott as a coach and could be intrigued by the Cavs’ up-and-coming roster as opposed to the Lakers’ collection of aging stars.
Bynum’s ties to Scott should leave everything open to consideration, but at this point, there isn’t much substance to any of the trade negotiations.
Still, the Cavs have surfaced as trade partners in multiple scenarios in recent weeks, something that will likely continue.
“They’re always very aggressive, they have a lot of draft picks and a lot of cap space,” said one Eastern Conference front office executive whose team has held recent trade talks with the Cavs. “They’re going to get pulled in on a lot of things.”