Cavaliers Rumors: CLE Hesitant on Tim Hardaway Jr. Trade Due to Remaining Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 10, 2023

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 27: Tim Hardaway Jr. #11 of the Dallas Mavericks looks on during the first half of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on November 27, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 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 John Fisher/Getty Images)
John Fisher/Getty Images

Tim Hardaway Jr.'s outstanding salary could present a roadblock in any trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers involving the Dallas Mavericks wing.

HoopsHype's Michael Scotto reported the Cavs are experiencing some "hesitancy" about a deal because Hardaway is owed almost $34.1 million over the next two seasons.

Scotto added Cleveland might simply value Caris LeVert as a more valuable piece than the 30-year-old.

Cavaliers governor Dan Gilbert wasn't afraid to dip into the luxury tax after LeBron James returned and gave the franchise a wide-open championship window. He hasn't pulled back the spending after James left, either.

Kevin Love, Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland have all gotten long-term extensions since then. You wouldn't have expected Cleveland to trade three first-round picks and two pick swaps to the Utah Jazz for Donovan Mitchell if the team didn't intend to at least offer him a max deal in 2026, either.

Smaller-market franchises have to be more conscious with their payroll, though, because mistakes can prove especially costly.

Marquee free agents offer the quickest escape route from a series of front-office whiffs, but that's typically not an available option for a team in Cleveland's position. Because of the Mitchell trade, the Cavaliers also lost the kind of draft assets that are often required to offload a bad contract.

Hardaway would address a clear need.

Cleveland is 18th in made three-pointers (11.6 per game) and 11th in three-point percentage (36.5). Floor-spacing has been particularly troublesome on the wing.

Cedi Osman is knocking down 34.7 percent of his long-range jumpers, which is almost equal to his career average (34.9 percent). Isaac Okoro and Lamar Stevens, meanwhile, are both sub-30 percent shooters from beyond the arc.

Hardaway, who's shooting 36.4 percent on threes, is a clear upgrade over the trio, and he'd fit nicely alongside Garland and Mitchell because he's so comfortable off the ball.

The question is whether the Cavaliers would be getting the kind of value commensurate with his contract.