Cavs News & Rumors: With Sasha Kaun Deal Looming, Tristan Thompson Now Out of Equation?
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in exploratory talks with Russian center Sasha Kaun in the hope of eventually striking a deal with the CSKA Moscow big man down the road.
According to Northeast Ohio Media Group, the Cavs front-office team had a dinner with Kaun in Las Vegas before they were spotted along with LeBron James and his former Russian national team coach David Blatt on courtside of an NBA Summer League games Friday night.
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Sources indicated the aim of the dinner was to gauge Kaun's interest about a potential move to the NBA after averaging career-high 13.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 20 minutes per game for the Russian powerhouse.
"The Cavs control Kaun's NBA rights and could pay him at least the veteran's minimum of $525,000, in addition to the roughly $1.3 million left of the team's taxpayer's salary cap exception, if they so chose. They invited Kaun to Las Vegas to start the dialogue about possibly playing for Cleveland next season."
It's a gamble Kaun if he ever decides to take his talent across the Atlantic. Aside from potentially turning down a $2.9 million salary with CSKA Moscow for a veteran minimum worth 525,000 (and possibly what's left in the Cavs' $1.3 million of team's taxpayers salary exception), the 30-year old Russian will probably need to take a step back as he competes for minutes with Kevin Love, compatriot Timofey Mozgov and a returning Anderson Varejao.
However, it appears Kaun is willing to take all these sacrifices, including a significant pay-cut, in order to live his NBA dream at the prime of his basketball career.
Moreover, there's also the possibility the Cavs are moving on from Tristan Thompson after failing to get the power forward on the same page in several occasions.
With the Cavs already way over the salary cap and luxury tax line, striking another multi-million deal with Thompson, reported at $85 million over five years, will catapult Dan Gilbert tax bill to as high as $90 million.
Although James' agency is the prominent force behind Thompson's 'holdout,' the Cavs may have no choice but to let the budding big man walk away for greener pastures somewhere, perhaps the rebuilding Portland Trail Blazers, and get a bit of tax relief for themselves.
It would be interesting how things play out for the Cavaliers onwards, as they put the pieces in place for another deep playoff run next season.