CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers have cleared a path for LeBron James to return to Cleveland.
They've made their moves. They're just waiting for him to make his.
The Cavs created enough salary-cap space to offer the superstar free agent a maximum contract on Wednesday, agreeing to trade guard Jarrett Jack, swingman Sergey Karasev, and center Tyler Zeller in a three-team deal with Brooklyn and Boston, a person familiar with the deals told the Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because teams are not permitted to discuss trades until the league's moratorium ends today.
The maneuvering is designed to open room under the salary cap so they can re-sign the Akron-born James, the four-time league MVP and most sought after player on the market.
With open roster spots, Cleveland isn't done.
Not long after making the trade with the Celtics and Nets, the Cavs had exploratory discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves about a possible trade for three-time All-Star Kevin Love — if James does return to Cleveland, said a person with knowledge of the inquiry.
The Timberwolves would be looking for No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins to be part of any potential package from Cleveland in order to consider parting with Love if the talks were to become more serious, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because neither team publicly announced the conversation.
Whatever the Cavs' next move is — with or without James — they could package together their other assets, including future first-round picks, to make a run at other All-Star players.
With nothing finalized, LeBronathon 2014 will last at least one more day with the NBA — and fans in Miami and Cleveland — on edge.
In the three-team trade the Cavs pulled off earlier Wednesday, Cleveland will receive guard Marcus Thornton from the Nets and send him, Zeller, and a future first-round pick to the Celtics. Also, the Cavs are trading Jack and Karasev to the Nets.