CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 09: Richard Jefferson #24 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the Golden State Warriors during the first half in Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 9, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The NBA has some fascinating trade machinations, thanks to the various salary cap rules and requirements in place that govern transactions. Today’s trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks is a perfect example of how the league essentially moves assets around that will never be realized. There are even unnamed European draft rights involved, the Swiss accounts of NBA trades.

There is at least one recognizable name, as Richard Jefferson will nominally head to Atlanta. Here are the details via Adrian Wojnarowski:

The Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed in principle to send forward Richard Jefferson, guard Kay Felder, two second-round draft picks and at least $3 million in cash to the Atlanta Hawks, league sources told ESPN.

Atlanta intends to waive Jefferson and Felder, sources said, and they would become free agents after clearing waivers. Jefferson was set to earn $2.5 million this season and Felder $1.3 million.

Jefferson is 37, and actually played in 79 games last year for the Cavs, a year after he considered retiring following Cleveland’s improbably NBA championship. Felder is a diminuitive point guard who showed some flashes in his rookie year last season, but wasn’t going to be much help to a team that hopes to have Isaiah Thomas back for the playoffs. The Cavs had to get to 15 players on their roster, and this move also reportedly saves them $12.8 million in luxury tax bills.

The Hawks, meanwhile, are utilizing their cap space to pick up some draft assets:

Sources said the draft picks going to Atlanta are 2019 and 2020 second-rounders and that the Hawks will send back European draft rights for two players in the deal. The 2019 pick will be the lesser pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers that had been owed to the Cavaliers, and the 2020 pick is from the Portland Trail Blazers.

That the Hawks would waive Jefferson isn’t much of a surprise; the veteran wing would have likely retired rather than play in Atlanta. Taking a shot at developing Felder’s potential may have been worth it for the Hawks, but they’re facing a roster crunch of their own, and still want to give most of their point guard minutes to Dennis Schroeder. So, essentially, the Cavs sent some second-round picks to Atlanta for the privilege of not paying Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder while also not paying luxury tax. The Hawks basically bought the second-round picks for the money they’ll pay Jefferson and Felder to not play.

You might think this sounds inconsequential, but wait:

Not the podcast! Eerily (well, not really eerily, no one vanished or anything) Jefferson predicted his departure on a recent episode:

Apparently it wasn’t too soon after all, Channing Frye.

It’ll be interesting to see where Jefferson goes; he could, in theory, hang around and see if any contenders need help near the end of the season, while still collecting his checks. That’s what I would do, but then NBA players tend to have a bit more of a competitive fire than I do, so it’s hard to say.


About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.