Sources: Cavs look to land Johnson from Nets

Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com

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  • ESPN.com NBA writer since 2010
  • Covered Cleveland Cavs for seven years
  • Author of two books
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The Cleveland Cavaliers are considering trading for Brooklyn Nets star Joe Johnson with their Brendan Haywood contract chip, sources told ESPN.com.

Only Kobe Bryant is slated to make more this upcoming season than Joe Johnson, who’s on the the last year of the six-year, $ 120 million contract he signed with the Nets in the summer of 2010.
Highest-paid players in 2015-16

Player Salary
Kobe Bryant $ 25.0M
Joe Johnson $ 24.9M
Carmelo Anthony $ 22.9M
Dwight Howard $ 22.4M
— ESPN Stats & Information

Haywood has a $ 10.5 million nonguaranteed contract if waived before Aug. 1, an asset that has gained value over the last several days as other teams use up their cap space. The Cavs have been looking for perimeter help, and Johnson would certainly provide a major boost as an additional scoring and shooting option.

The Nets are actively looking to move Johnson to reduce their tax burden this upcoming season as they are facing paying the repeater tax, which would be the most punitive luxury penalty in league history. The Nets have held talks with several teams, including the Memphis Grizzlies, sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein.

Johnson, who averaged 14.4 points and shot 44 percent last season, is the second-highest-paid player in the league at $ 24.8 million next season. Trading for and waiving Haywood could save the Nets tens of millions in tax payments, but it would take more than just Haywood to make the contract values match in a deal between the Cavs and Nets. 

Joe Johnson could end up joining LeBron James in Cleveland as the Cavaliers, according to sources, are exploring a trade for the Nets swingman. Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

One possible option for the Cavs would be sending big man Anderson Varejao to the Nets in such a deal. Varejao will make $ 9.6 million this upcoming season as part of an extension he signed last year. Varejao suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in December but is on track to return by the start of the season.

The possibility of moving Varejao, who has played his entire 11-year career with the Cavs, could be behind the Cavs’ interest in free-agent forward David West over the last several days. West has indicated he wants to play for a Finals contender, and the Cavs have been attempting to recruit him, sources said.

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