Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is reporting that the Portland Trail Blazers have acquired veterans Mike Miller and Brendan Haywood from the Cleveland Cavaliers, plus two second-round draft picks. The details of the trade slowly leaked out afterward:
Cleveland has traded Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller to Portland, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 27, 2015
Jeff Zillgitt reports that the Cavs are sending picks to Portland:
In this Miller-Haywood Blazers trade, Cavs also sending 2019 and 2020 second-rounders to Blazers, per person with info on trade.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) July 27, 2015
The Blazers are expected to waive Miller tomorrow and absorb his salary:
Early expectation is that the Blazers will release Mike Miller and let veteran sharpshooter find new team after consummating trade Monday— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 27, 2015
Haywood is making $10.5 million on a non-guaranteed contract and is expected to be waived. The move reduces Cleveland's budget while creating a trade exception they can use later should they wish to add another player to their roster. They employed a similar tactic when acquiring center Timofey Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets last season.
The 35-year-old small forward Mike Miller has played 15 years in the league and carries a career three-point shooting average of 40.7%. He averaged 2.1 ppg for the Cavaliers last season in 13.5 minutes per game while shooting 32.7% from distance.
Miller is scheduled to make $2.9 million this season, the final year of his current contract. Cleveland will generate two separate Trade Exceptions with this transaction.
In case anybody is confused about this deal, here's the quick and dirty explanation.
Cleveland needed to reduce salary because they're in luxury tax territory and they haven't even signed all the players they want to yet. Haywood and Miller make over $13 million combined. That's why they wanted to dump them.
They could have waived Haywood themselves, as his contract is not guaranteed for next season. By trading him instead they create a $10.5 million trade exception, giving themselves flexibility to trade for other players in the future. Simply waiving him to drop his salary would not have created this exception.
They'll also get a trade exception for Miller. His contract is guaranteed, so they could not just cut him and lose the salary from their cap obligation. Trading him was the only way to get that $2.9 million off of the books.
In order to make this work, Cleveland had to find a trading partner with enough cap space to absorb both salaries. That's where Portland came in. The Blazers had ample space to take on $13 million. They will waive Haywood, just as Cleveland would have done. This will not cost them a dime, nor will it end up affecting their cap at all. Haywood will be on Portland's balance sheet for a few hours and then his salary will be gone.
Miller's guaranteed contract will stay on Portland's books this year even though they'll likely waive him too. But that won't matter to them at all. $2.9 million is a drop in the bucket. They wouldn't have used that space anyway.
From Portland's point of view, they picked up 2 second-round picks for free...their only cost being Miller's $2.9 million contract sitting on the books until next July. This was like finding a couple pennies on the ground for Neil Olshey. They're not going to make a huge difference, but you might as well pick them up.