Yesterday, the Utah Jazz and the Cleveland Cavaliers completed a trade that will send the non-guaranteed contracts of Erik Murphy, Malcolm Thomas and John Lucas III to Cleveland. The Jazz will receive 6-foot-6 swingman Carrick Felix, $1 million in cash and a 2015 second-round pick in the deal. The move nets the Cavs valuable trade pieces to use in their pursuit of Kevin Love.
It has been long rumored that the Minnesota Timberwolves have been seeking salary relief in addition to picks and players in any deal for Love. If they were to get Murphy, Thomas and JLIII from the Cavs, Minnesota could release them before their contracts become guaranteed. Minnesota would probably want to send a player like Kevin Martin to Cleveland to clear additional salary.
For Utah’s part, it’s a smart deal that marks the second summer in a row the team was able to acquire assets by helping another club with their money situation and pursuit of a star. Last year, the Jazz made a trade with the Golden State Warriors that awarded them with several future draft picks. The Warriors also sent Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and Andris Biedrins to the Jazz, which cleared room on their books for Andre Iguodala.
One of the Jazz’s last areas of need was a third small forward to play behind Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward, which is the gap Felix will fill. After the trade was completed, Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey stated that defense is where Felix hangs his hat. In college, he was an All-Pac-12 defender at Arizona State. For a team that was horrendous defensively over the past couple seasons, this is the kind of player you want. Felix saw limited time with the Cavs last year, but he averaged 11 points and more than five rebounds per game for the D-League’s Canton Charge.
Perhaps the most tantalizing aspect of the deal, and the one that Lindsey really deserves a pat on the back for, is the acquisition of yet another future draft choice for the Jazz. Through his various trades, he has now brought the total number of draft picks on Utah’s ledger over the next four years to 15.
As the contracts of Thomas, Murphy and Lucas likely weren’t going to get picked up by the team, this trade amounts to something for nothing for the Jazz. Any time you can get something for nothing, I think it’s safe to call it a win for your team. Smart move here for the Jazz.