Cavs acquire Dunleavy
CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James has long been enamored with the idea of playing with veteran forward Mike Dunleavy.
After James’ buddy Dwyane Wade made the stunning decision to return home to Chicago, LeBron got his wish.
The Bulls sent Dunleavy to the Cleveland Cavaliers to help make room for the incoming Wade, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade has not been officially announced.
Shortly after Wade informed the Bulls that he was leaving Miami to return to play in his hometown, Chicago told Dunleavy he was headed to Cleveland.
The 35-year-old Dunleavy averaged a career-low 7.2 points in 31 games for the Bulls last season. But he still shot 39 percent from 3-point range and gives the Cavaliers another versatile player who can stretch the floor as they look to defend the city’s first sports championship in 52 years.
That wasn’t the only good news the Cavaliers got on Wednesday night. Veteran swingman Richard Jefferson announced that he will return to Cleveland on a two-year deal. Jefferson said after the Cavs won the title that he would call it a career, but the 36-year-old quickly changed his mind at the team’s victory parade in downtown Cleveland and made it official on Wednesday night.
Jefferson played a critical role in the Cavaliers’ run to the title, even starting some playoff games in place of Kevin Love when he was injured.
Dunleavy became available when Wade decided to leave Miami after 13 seasons to come home to the team he grew up idolizing. He agreed to terms on a two-year, $47 million contract, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement. The big payout forced the Bulls to scramble to move some salary from their books.
Dunleavy is under contract for $4.8 million next season. The Cavaliers can absorb his salary using a trade exception they received when they shipped Anderson Varejao out last season.
The trade was first reported by the Chicago Tribune. The Bulls also traded point guard Jose Calderon to the Lakers to create the necessary cap space for Wade.
Getting Dunleavy helps bolster Cleveland’s bench, a move that could be even more important after the Golden State Warriors, who squandered a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals against James and the Cavs, landed superstar Kevin Durant in free agency.
With four All-Stars and two MVPs on a team that won 73 regular season games last year, the Warriors look more imposing than ever.
The Cavaliers don’t have huge money to throw around and land similar reinforcements, so getting Dunleavy for free from the Bulls is a key move that the team likely could not have anticipate even earlier in the week.