An Associated Press source has indicated that the Charlotte Hornets will trade former Tar Heel center Brendan Haywood and newly minted second round pick power forward Dwight Powell to the Cleveland Cavaliers for wing Alonzo Gee.
Why this Trade Works for the Hornets
Haywood was due to make $ 2 million this season and likely not play very much since the Hornets drafted Indiana forward Noah Vonleh with the ninth pick. Vonleh’s minutes at the four spot would likely have forced Cody Zeller to pick up more minutes at the center spot behind Al Jefferson. That would leave few minutes left between Haywood and Bismack Biyombo, and the Hornets are still committed to developing a young Biyombo.
Gee is an athletic wing who fits with the Steve Clifford defensive mentality. He would come off the bench. He is basically an insurance policy on injured forward Jeff Taylor, still recovering from an Achilles tendon rupture. If Taylor comes back on schedule to man the backup minutes behind Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, then Gee might not be on the roster when the season starts. Gee’s contract is not guaranteed for the upcoming season, so there is no penalty for cutting him for cap room.
In a way this might have just been a creative way to get Haywood’s contract off the books without cutting him, thus freeing up more cap room.This is not the first Hornets trade this off-season and I doubt it will be the last.
Why this Trade Works for the Cavs (and Brendan Haywood)
Cleveland needs defense and that is what Haywood provides. Some believe the reason that the Cavs took Andrew Wiggins over Jabari Parker was defensive skill. Haywood can be the rim protector off the bench that they are missing right now. Haywood and Powell’s combined deals, assuming they keep Powell, will still likely cost less than the $ 3 million that Gee would have made next year.
With Gee traded and Luol Deng a free agent, the Cavs have opened up space at small forward where wing Andrew Wiggins would naturally slot. Of course there is another small forward that could potentially fill that space too, LeBron James, but I don’t think that is likely. Trading Gee gives the Cavs flexibility to fit Wiggins and whatever they might do with Anthony Bennett.