Cavaliers make salary moves as free agency begins

AFP
Jarrett Jack (L) of the Cleveland Cavaliers defends against Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets March 28, 2014 at the Barclay Center in New York
Jarrett Jack (L) of the Cleveland Cavaliers defends against Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets March 28, 2014 at the Barclay Center in New York (AFP Photo/Don Emmert)

New York (AFP) - A three-team trade that gave the Cleveland Cavaliers more NBA salary cap room to chase superstar LeBron James was among the deals confirmed Thursday as the official signing period began.

The Cavaliers, who will be guided by new coach Dave Blatt next season, sent guard Jarrett Jack and Russian swingman Sergey Karasev to the Brooklyn Nets in a three-team deal that also involves the Boston Celtics.

The complex transfer sends Nets guard Marcus Thornton and Cleveland center Tyler Zeller to Boston and gives Cleveland the rights to three players who have never played in the NBA -- Turkish big man Ilkan Karaman, Danish forward Christian Drejer and Bosnian forward Edin Bavcic.

That opens salary cap room for the Cavaliers that would allow them to offer James, who has led the Miami Heat to two NBA titles and the past four NBA Finals, a maximum deal for four years at nearly $100 million.

James reached his first NBA Finals as a member of the Cavaliers but in 2010 left for Miami, causing many Cleveland fans to burn James jerseys and evoking a stinging letter of rebuke from team owner Dan Gilbert.

That letter had remained on the team's website for years until being removed in the past few days as the Cavaliers joined a number of teams seeking to lure James to a new deal, a list that includes the Heat.

Jack, a nine-year veteran, averaged 9.5 points and 4.1 assists in 80 games last season for Cleveland and has NBA career averages of 10.9 points and 4.3 assists over 691 games for Portland, Indiana, Toronto, New Orleans, Golden State and Cleveland.

"Jarrett is a proven NBA veteran who will add versatility to our backcourt," Nets general manager Billy King said. "The team had a need in that area and we are excited that we were able to secure Jarrett to fill that role."

Karasev, the 19th pick in last year's NBA Draft, averaged 1.7 points in 22 appearances for the Cavaliers last season.

"Sergey is a player who we have followed closely for several years," King said. "He is a versatile forward and will be a welcome addition to our roster."

Toronto guard Kyle Lowry and Washington center Marcin Gortat of Poland also signed deals to stay with their clubs.

The Raptors reportedly agreeed to a four-year contract worth $48 million with Lowry.

"We made it known that our top priority heading into the offseason was to re-sign Kyle," Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri said. "He was a key to our success last season."

Lowry averaged 17.9 points and 7.4 assists in his second season with Toronto as the Raptors made the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

Gortat's new deal was reportedly worth $60 million over five years.

"Re-signing Marcin was a top priority for us this summer so that we could maintain continuity and improve on what we accomplished last season," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said.