The Cleveland Cavaliers have traded Rakeem Christmas to the Indiana Pacers for a 2019 second-round pick, the Cavaliers announced Thursday. The pick was first sent to the Pacers from the Los Angeles Lakers in the Roy Hibbert trade.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports the deal may be a precursor to a trade of Brendan Haywood, who has a $10.52 million non-guaranteed contract for next season. The Cavaliers have been attempting to use Haywood’s contract to find an upgrade to the roster, but those attempts have failed and the team has come to the realization that there’s no good deal to be made.
If a Haywood deal goes down, it’ll likely just result in a large trade exception for Cleveland, and an asset (perhaps the pick acquired in this trade) could be used as a sweetener for another team to take on the big man’s contract before waiving him. The Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers are the only two teams that currently have the suitable cap space to absorb Haywood’s contract.
Christmas, the 36th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, could be useful on a Pacers team bereft of talent in the frontcourt. He appeared in four Summer League games for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 20.9 minutes per game.