The Cleveland Cavaliers are trading Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder to save money.
Cleveland agreed to send Jefferson, Felder, two second-round draft picks and $3 million to the Atlanta Hawks in a move that will allow the Eastern Conference champions to avoid paying $12 million in luxury tax penalties, a person familiar with the deal told the Associated Press on Friday.
In return, the Cavs will get the rights to two overseas players, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the league still has to approve the transaction. The deal could be completed later Friday or Saturday morning.
Jefferson and Felder were both on Cleveland’s bench for Friday night’s exhibition finale at Orlando.
Cleveland’s roster filled up quickly after the club signed Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Jeff Green and Jose Calderon during the offseason. The Cavs needed to clear two roster spots before Tuesday’s season opener and they’ve been looking for a team to do business with for several weeks.
The 37-year-old Jefferson spent two seasons with Cleveland, which signed him as a free agent in 2015. He was a key contributor during the 2016 championship season, coming off the bench to provide an offensive spark. He appeared in 79 games last season, averaging 5.7 points in 20.4 minutes.
In other NBA news:
-- Kawhi Leonard still isn’t ready to play. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said the All-Star forward needs more time to get his injured right thigh muscle, meaning he won’t be out there when the Spurs open their regular season on Wednesday against Minnesota. Leonard didn’t play at all in camp or preseason, a year after he averaged 25.5 points — raising his scoring average for the fifth consecutive season — and finished behind only Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the MVP race.
-- The Indianapolis Pacers have picked up team options on the contracts of center Myles Turner and forward Domantas Sabonis. The option for the 21-year-old Turner is for a fourth year. The Pacers hope the 6-foot-11 youngster will become the long-term face of the franchise. Last season, he averaged 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds and was second in the league in blocks (172). The Pacers picked up a third-year option for Sabonis, a 2016 first-round draft pick who was traded to Indiana by Oklahoma City along with Victor Oladipo as part of the deal for Paul George.
-- The Phoenix Suns have signed 6-foot-10 Frenchman Tidjan Keita. The 20-year-old forward from Paris, with a 7-3 wingspan, was not selected this year after declaring for the draft. He took part in a pre-draft workout with the Suns this year. He played for the Toronto Raptors’ entry in this year’s Las Vegas summer league.
-- The Minnesota Timberwolves have signed free-agent forward Shawne Williams, but he won’t be there long. The Wolves announced the signing on Friday. It’s a procedural move because the team intends to waive him on Saturday so that Minnesota’s G-League affiliate in Iowa will own his rights. Williams will still be an NBA free agent and will be able to sign with any team in the league.