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Cavs exec says deadline trades will hurt not if, but ‘when LeBron leaves’

LeBron James, Cavs

The Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves down an 0-2 hole in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Boston Celtics, but they could find themselves in an even deeper abyss at the end of this postseason.

With only one year left on his three-year, $99.9 million contract and all the power to opt out of the $35.6 million he’s slated to make next season, the Cavs would feel an even bigger void once James decides to leave town, according to a league executive.

“When LeBron leaves,” one Eastern Conference executive told Ken Berger of Bleacher Report, choosing an interesting qualifier (not “if” but “when”), “that trade will be devastating financially. A lot of money in [George] Hill and Clarkson, and you have to pay Nance.”

Another executive put the situation even more bluntly.

“They’re screwed,” a prominent agent told Berger Tuesday night.

For added context, the Cavs yielded only a mere five points out of the string of three deadline trades, as Jordan Clarkson was a DNP, and George Hill, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance Jr. only mustered five points in 55 combined minutes of play, according to Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report.

The Cavs would be in the hole for a whopping $33.5 million in salary between George, Clarkson, and Nance, while the everlasting burdens of J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson, who hold very little to no trade value, will put the Cavs another $32.2 million deeper.

Asked where James would wind up, the agent didn’t think the Los Angeles Lakers or the Philadelphia 76ers are a viable destination for The King.

“He’s not going to the Lakers, because they know they can get Kawhi [Leonard] next summer,” the agent said. “If I’m the Sixers, I have to think about what it means to bring in LeBron and take the ball out of Ben Simmons’ hands. Simmons is useless when he’s not controlling the ball. Is LeBron going to give up the ball?”

Once James leaves, now with every reason to prove the city he’s done all the heavy-lifting during this postseason — the team will be riddled with an endless list of bad contracts, one which will hurt the franchise for the near future and likely kill any chances of regaining prominence until those sour salaries are off the books.

LeBronto