Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the Cleveland Cavaliers and six-foot-11 Russian center Sasha Kaun reached an agreement on a two-year deal yesterday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though the Cavs likely used the $1.276 million of the middle-level exception that they had left from after signing Mo Williams.
There were conflicting reports about whether the second-year of Kaun’s contract was a player or team option. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the second year was a player option but Haynes has since refuted that notion.
Kaun has been property of the Cavaliers since the Seattle SuperSonics drafted the 30-year-old in the second round of the 2008 draft out of Kansas. He has played for CSKA Moscow ever since, averaging 9.9 points along with 4.5 caroms in 20.1 minutes of action last year, per Basketball-Reference. Kaun also shot an incredible 69.1 percent from the floor.
Kaun will likely battle Anderson Varejao for the right to back up starter Timofey Mozgov, though Tristan Thompson could be in the mix if the restricted free agent ultimately re-signs with the team. Thompson and Varejao also will see time at power forward behind starter Kevin Love.
Kaun is the fourth player that the Cavs have signed this past week. Cleveland has also re-signed J.R. Smith and signed Jared Cunningham as well as Quinn Cook to training camp contracts. Smith agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract while Cunningham.
With Kaun, Smith, Cunningham, and Cook in tow, Cleveland has 15 players under contract. Smith recently re-signed with the team for two years at $10 million –the second year being a player option — while Cunningham and Cook’s deals are non-guaranteed. The Cavs are currently over the salary cap as well as the NBA’s luxury tax threshold.
So, the big question is where does that leave Thompson and Cedi Osman, who was the Cavaliers second round pick this year?
Haynes is reporting that re-signing Thompson is still a priority for the Cavs. The main reason that a deal has not gotten done yet is due to luxury tax implications, according to Larry Brown Sports.
“[As Basketball Insider’s Steve] Kyler says the Cavaliers already have committed $88.631 million in guaranteed salary to their current roster, which is $3.891 million over the $84.74 million luxury tax threshold. The corresponding tax bill is $5.836 million. That means they will be taxed heavily on every penny used to sign anyone else, such as Thompson, J.R. Smith and/or Sasha Kaun.
“For instance, if Thompson signs a qualifying offer for $6.77 million, the Cavs would face a $12.085 million tax bill, meaning Thompson would cost them $18.862 million.
“If they pay Thompson the full max amount, that’s where things get really crazy.”
The signing of Kaun will likely mean that Osman will spend at least next season in his native Turkey, though Cleveland general manager David Griffin said the 20-year-old will likely not come over to the NBA for two seasons. Osman played for Anadolu Efes last year, where he averaged 8.5 points on 43.0 percent shooting.
Cleveland’s other second round selection, Sir’Dominick Pointer, saw his chances of making the team hurt by the Cavs’ recent signings — particularly that of Cunningham. Pointer, who is currently unsigned, was the 53rd player picked in this year’s draft. The University of St. John’s product is a defensive stalwart who is very athletic and has a high motor. However, his jumper is still a work in progress.
Pointer did have a good summer league campaign with the Cavs. He appeared in five games for the team in Las Vegas, averaging 5.6 points along with 3.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]