Grade the Trade: Cavaliers add P.J. Washington in bold new pitch

P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)
P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Damian Jones, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports) /

Building a trade for P.J. Washington

To execute a sign-and-trade for a player, a team over the cap has to both include enough matching salary to satisfy CBA rules, while at the same time being careful not to exceed the first tax apron; adding a player via sign-and-trade hard caps you, and a team can’t exceed it for any reason. That’s not a major issue for the Cavs here, however, as they already hard-capped themselves using the MLE on Georges Niang and the BAE on Ty Jerome and have a fair amount of breathing room under the apron.

Where they don’t have the same breathing room is under the tax. If they want to maximize financial flexibility, they should try to trade two of their lower-middle-class salaries; Isaac Okoro and Dean Wade, for example, could allow them to reduce their own salary enough to add Washington and stay out of the tax entirely.

That move, however, would hurt the Cavs’ rotation in order to add Washington. That may be worth it, but if the Cavaliers are serious about sinning they should pursue options where they can maximize their current level of play, luxury tax or no. This deal would get them to enough salary to offer Washington something like a 4-year, $70 million contract:

Would this be enough salary for P.J. Washington? He is reportedly looking for $20 million per season, but there aren’t any teams with cap space left. A team could execute a sign-and-trade and sign him for $20 million per season, but that’s a lot of money on top of whatever assets they need to send Charlotte’s way. Given that his qualifying offer is $8.48 million and Charlotte isn’t interested in a lucrative deal, an average salary of $17.5 million may just get it done.

What about Charlotte; would this package work for them? It doesn’t give them much on-court value, with Ricky Rubio currently stepping away from basketball, but if Rubio does return he can be a capable veteran mentor to LaMelo Ball and the rest of their young core. They can afford to absorb his salary, which may get wiped out if he retires or is only partially-guaranteed for next season. Add in Damian Jones as center depth on an expiring deal; he’s a throw-in here.

They would be doing this for the picks, a pair of future second-rounders. They may have wanted a first for Washington, but at this stage in the game that’s likely to be forthcoming. They may get a better offer than this, but it’s a reasonable return for Charlotte on their free agent.