Report: Warriors likely to cut perfect Cleveland Cavaliers free agency target

New reports claim the Golden State Warriors could cut the perfect backup center for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Three years after their last championship, the Golden State Warriors are recallibrating to maneuever through the NBA's new Collective Barganing Agreement and its harsh limitation on expensive rosterse. As one of the few contenders outside of the luxury tax penalties, the Cleveland Cavaliers could benefit greatly from the Warriors' financial struggles.

The future of the dynastic Warriors will likely be forced to shift this offseason as Klay Thompson enters free agency, Andrew Wiggins joins the trade market and Golden State searches for a path forward under the new CBA. Currently, Golden State is over the tax apron, severely limiting their free agency and trade options. With an exciting young prospect Jonathan Kuminga and Stephen Curry still stunning opponents, the Warriors are seemingly choosing to drop whatever salary commitments possible to reassess their options and address the checkbooks.

In a money-managing move, the Warriors' first order of business this summer may include cutting their championship center Kevon Looney. Looney has been present for three of Golden State's four championships, alternating between a bench and starting role. Last season, Looney's average minutes per game dropped to a five-season low (16.1) as the Warriors fell short of the playoffs.

Although Looney has $8 million left in the final year of his contract, only $3 million is guaranteed, meaning Golden State can drop its cap sheet by nearly $5 million by waiving him. This move will likely start a tidal wave of salary cuts, with Chris Paul's fully non-guaranteed $30 million salary the next to go. This would get the Warriors close to their target number, possibly finished by a salary dump trade involving Andrew Wiggins.

Kevon Looney is the perfect candidate for the Cavaliers to sign in free agency

This move signals a major paradigm shift for the franchise, and the Cavaliers could be the team who benefits most from it. Since pairing Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen together in the starting frontcourt, Cleveland has lacked a reliable backup interior presence. This summer, the Cavs must take a look at Looney once he enters the market.

During the regular season, Cleveland welcomed former NBA champion Tristan Thompson in his return, and his relentless physicality and presence in the post allowed Thompson to impact the Cavaliers in every performance. Unfortunately, the 33-year-old veteran is unlikely to maintain his production long enough for the Cavs to invest in him long-term. Looney, though, provides another hardened rebounder, both offensively and defensively, with lenghty playoff and championship experience.

Over his nine-year career, 37.5 percent of Looney's rebounds have come on the offensive end, a much-needed growth next year for the Cavs. Neither Mobley nor Allen can consistently overpower their opponents in the paint, but Looney has built a reputation as the perfect answer to their ongoing dilemma.

If the Cavaliers do eventually move on from Allen this summer to invest in Mobley at his natural position, Looney would be a perfect backup option behind Mobley, giving the Cavs a trustworthy rotation in the post.

While Looney might have commanded a hefty return in trades with his experience and team-friendly contract, the Cavs must target Looney in free agency as the long-term backup five that the team has needed for years. The Cavaliers would still need to search the market for better wing depth, but Looney provides a definite impact player in a needed role.

Cleveland and Golden State have mutual interests

With Looney's departure, the Warriors will be sorely absent of any reliable, trustworthy center, making an interest in Cavalier Jarrett Allen a real potential soon after. While the Cavs and Warriors have more bad blood than a mutual affinity for one another, their needs and weaknesses seemingly match better than expected.

Alongside Looney, the Cavaliers could target another championship Warrior this summer. Cleveland reportedly showed interest in a homecoming for Andrew Wiggins this summer, but nothing came to fruition by the deadline. After a nearly decade-long feud and bitter rivalry between the intraconference franchises, the Cavs and Warriors could benefit one another with a former All-Star for a former All-Star swap.

Wiggins may be a damaged asset at this point in his career, but a deal that gives the Cavs one of Golden State's high-profile young players and draft compensation in return for accepting Wiggins' contract, the Cleveland Cavaliers should consider making the drastic move in a series of shocking transactions this summer with a former rival.

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