INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers are engaged in advanced trade talks that would bring Pau Gasol to the Cavs in exchange for Andrew Bynum and other considerations, a league source confirmed Tuesday. ESPN.com first reported the trade negotiations.
Bynum has a cap number of $12 million, but only half of it is guaranteed if he is released by Jan. 7. The Cavs are actively shopping Bynum's unique contract, but the field of suitors is likely limited to the six teams over the luxury tax. The Lakers are one of them. By acquiring Bynum and then releasing him, the Lakers would be ridding themselves of Gasol's contract, which means a savings of $13.3 million in luxury taxes this summer plus the balance of Gasol's contract, which is roughly $11 million. It will also prevent them from falling under the "repeat offenders" tax that begins next season, which further punishes teams habitually over the luxury tax.
The Cavaliers will have to give up at least one other player to make a deal work, likely Alonzo Gee. A league source indicated another young player such as Carrick Felix, Sergey Karasev or Matthew Dellavedova, or a low pick, may be required to help the Lakers sell the deal to their fans.
In Gasol, the Cavs would be getting a 13-year veteran forward/center who is averaging 14.7 points and 9.4 rebounds. Gasol has never fit well in Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni's system, but his shooting percentage has steadily declined each of the last six years. He's down to 45 percent this season. This is the final year on Gasol's contract. He averaged 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds two years ago under Mike Brown, who said he'd address the ongoing Bynum situation with his players.
"You educate them on what's going on," Brown said. "It's just like anything else. You understand that we're in a bunker mentality during the season, because there's a lot of distractions.
"As we all know, this isn't the only distraction we've faced so far this year. So we've got to keep taking stuff in stride, knowing that our main job is to go out and win games."
Anderson Varejao played in his 500th regular season game Tuesday, the same day he surpassed Jim Brewer and moved into third place on the Cavs all-time career offensive rebounding list with 1,298.
Varejao has battled injuries each of the last three years, but has managed to stay healthy this season.
"It's been a long time," Varejao said. "Five hundred games is big time. ... It's crazy how fast time goes by."
The Cavs were close in a number of games in December, but struggled to win them at the end when opponents pulled away. They lost their previous three games by a total of 9 points and Tuesday's game against the Pacers was also close until the final seven minutes.
"We have to get better at realizing there's a lot of possessions left in the fourth quarter," Kyrie Irving said. "Whether they go up by 8 or 10, there's so many possessions in a game and the game can go either way. We've just got to keep playing."
Jarrett Jack walked into the arena for the New Year's Eve game wearing a tuxedo and sunglasses.
"I'm trying to take my pride in my appearance," he said. "Might be one of my New Year's resolutions."
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