What's buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Ball Don't Lie

Cavs send Jarrett Jack to Nets in 3-way deal with Celtics that could be precursor to LeBron James offer

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks
.

View photo

Mar 23, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jarrett Jack (1) looks on during the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Cavaliers won 106-100. (Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

Jarrett Jack woke up like this:

And shortly thereafter, so did the rest of us.

Just one year after signing him to a four-year, $25.2 million contract, the Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to move Jack in a three-team deal, as first reported by ESPN.com's Marc Stein. The 30-year-old veteran point guard will join the Brooklyn Nets, along with Sergey Karasev, the 20-year-old Russian small forward the Cavs selected with the 19th pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft.

Taking on the balance of Jack's contract — fully guaranteed for the next two seasons, only guaranteed for $500,000 in 2016-17 — is a pretty steep price for a backup point guard when you're already paying max money for Deron Williams. But a Nets team eager to remain competitive and make a third-straight playoff appearance under newly hired head coach Lionel Hollins needed a reserve after Shaun Livingston headed to the Bay Area, and having an experienced sort to mind the store figures to be especially important as Williams works his way back from offseason surgery on both of his balky ankles. And when Williams is in full form, he and Jack would figure to be able to play together in two-point-guard configurations, too, as Williams did with Livingston last season and as Jack has in each of the past two seasons, with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and with Stephen Curry on the Golden State Warriors two seasons ago.

View gallery

.
The Nets reportedly liked Sergey Karasev before the 2013 NBA draft. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

The Nets reportedly liked Sergey Karasev before the 2013 NBA draft. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

In Karasev, a raw 6-foot-7 shooter, the Nets get a prospective future contributor on the wing in whom they were reportedly interested prior to the 2013 draft, in which Brooklyn selected Duke big man Mason Plumlee with the 22nd overall pick. (That worked out OK, as Plumlee became an integral part of then-coach Jason Kidd's frontcourt rotation, averaging 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game en route to earning an All-Rookie First Team selection.) Karasev is unlikely to be an immediate plug-and-play solution at either the two or three spot after seeing all of 156 minutes for Mike Brown last season, but he could wind up helping at a spot where both Paul Pierce and Alan Anderson are free agents, Andrei Kirilenko's now a nearly sure bet to miss time with injury every season, and incoming Croatian signee Bojan Bogdanovic will likely face a learning curve in his first year stateside.

The third team in the mix, the Boston Celtics, will receive center Tyler Zeller, the Cavs' 17th overall pick in 2012, and shooting guard Marcus Thornton, whom the Nets imported at the February trade deadline. Boston can import the two players for the low cost of what SB Nation's Paul Flannery reports is only a heavily protected future second-round draft pick because they can slide Zeller's and Thornton's salaries into the $10.3 million traded player exception that was created when they traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets last summer.

If Danny Ainge and company didn't use that exception by Saturday, it would've expired. Instead, Boston gets Thornton, a backcourt gunner off the bench who can shoot the 3, score in bunches, and clear $8.6 million off the books next summer, and Zeller, a 24-year-old 7-footer who averaged just under 14 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes last year, performed pretty well for Cleveland in increased minutes after the All-Star break, and still has three years left on his cheap rookie contract.

Boston also snares a future first-round draft pick from the Cavs in the bargain, because, well, of course they do. According to Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, Cleveland has placed protections on that pick in 2016, '17 and '18; the Celtics won't receive it in those three years if it falls inside the top 10 choices in the draft. If it still hasn't been conveyed by 2019, though, it's totally unprotected, and Boston gets it no matter where it falls.

The Celtics now stand to have as much as $32 million in salary-matching expiring contracts, a handful of young and comparatively inexpensive recent first-round selections, and as many as nine first-round picks coming their way over the next four years — three in 2015, two in 2016, two in 2017 and two in 2018. This is where we remind you that Ainge once used very similar ingredients to put together packages that imported Garnett and Ray Allen, and that the Celtics reportedly remain very interested in engaging the Minnesota Timberwolves in trade talks for All-NBA power forward Kevin Love. Stay tuned.

And then there's the Cavs.

Cleveland gets the draft rights to three unlikely-to-matter-in-any-substantive-way players from the Nets — Ilkan Karaman, a 24-year-old Turkish power forward whom the Nets drafted with the 57th pick in 2012 and who's reportedly coming off surgeries to both his knees; Christian Drejer, a Danish pro who played college ball at Florida, whom the Nets chose in the 2004 draft and who retired in 2008; and Edin Bavcic, a 30-year-old Bosnian big man drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the second round in 2006, whose rights the Nets received from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for reserve point guard Tyshawn Taylor last season, and who's actually been traded for Jack before, which is weird.

Oh, and there's one other thing.

View gallery

.
A 10-story banner of LeBron James is taken down by workers in downtown Cleveland on July 11, 2010. (AP/Amy Sancetta)

A 10-story banner of LeBron James is taken down by workers in downtown Cleveland on July 11, 2010. (AP/Amy San …

By shedding the 2014-15 salaries owed to Jack ($6.3 million), Zeller ($1,703,760) and Karasev ($1,533,840) without taking back any contracts in the deal, the Cavs also open up scads of cap space — $21.7 million, according to ProBasketballTalk's Dan Feldman — to use this summer. And in case you hadn't heard, there's a certain free agent with ties to Cleveland who would like a full maximum contract with a starting salary of $20.7 million for the 2014-15 season. So, y'know, that's something. (The Cavs claim they were going to do this deal anyway, which might not be the most unreasonable thing you've ever heard, since Jack wasn't a worldbeater in his first year in Ohio, but still, Cleveland: we don't believe you, you need more people.)

It's also, to put it mildly, a MAJOR gamble.

Since taking over the reins as the Cavaliers' general manager after the midseason firing of Chris Grant and the postseason jettisoning of coach Brown, new Cavs boss David Griffin has lucked into the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, used it to select exhilarating Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins, locked up All-Star point guard Irving on a five-year maximum extension and landed highly touted Euroleague head coach David Blatt to run the show. The sunny streak continues at Summer League, where 2013 top pick Anthony Bennett — whose career got off to a dismal start, but picked up later in the season before he suffered a knee injury — apparently showed up looking shredded and ready to work.

Now, Griffin can offer James his full (non-Bird-rights) max, young talent alongside him to reduce his playmaking (and, in Wiggins, potentially defensive) burden, a potentially intriguing avenue for adding additional talent next season thanks to a draft-night deal that imported veteran big man Brendan Haywood's unique expiring contract, and, reportedly, the opportunity to bring along favorite floor-spacing buddies like Allen, Mike Miller and James Jones. While it remains difficult to grasp that James would return to Cleveland after all that transpired after he left in free agency four years ago, it's indisputable that Griffin and company are doing just about everything they can to make the case for Cleveland as James' best possible destination as compelling as possible, both on the court and off it.

James, for his part, is set to meet with Heat president Pat Riley on Wednesday in Las Vegas. He's expected to propose that Miami offer him a short-term maximum deal to remain with the Heat, who recently agreed to terms with free agents Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger as part of the "retooling" effort that Riley promised after the Heat fell to the San Antonio Spurs in five games in the 2014 NBA finals.

This ought to be one hell of a meeting in Vegas.

- - - - - - -

Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL, "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

View Comments (19)