How the Cleveland Cavaliers could let LeBron James and Dwyane Wade split $40 million

Whether it's likely or not, there is a path for the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade—presuming they're willing to split just under $40 million.

Until proven otherwise, I'm going to presume Dwyane Wade is out there vying for leverage against the Miami Heat rather than seriously talking about joining the Cleveland Cavaliers. While it's been a fun day of Cleveland sports talk imagining LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sticking it to Pat Riley in order to play buddy ball in Cleveland, I remain skeptical for a variety of reasons. Skepticism aside, I'm the proud owner of Microsoft Excel and an internet connection, so I wanted to see what the world would look like with a Cavaliers roster brimming with champs. After finishing my math, I consulted with our good friend Jacob Rosen (and his calculator) and he thought most of it was basically correct. So, here's how the Cleveland Cavaliers can create almost $40 million for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to split.

Step One: Scorch the Earth

The Cleveland Cavaliers basically have to clear everyone off the current roster not named Love, Kyrie, or Tristan.

  • Trade Iman Shumpert and his $9.6 million salary
  • Trade Channing Frye and his $7.8 million salary
  • Trade Mo Williams and his $2.2 million salary
  • Cut Dahntay Jones and his non-guaranteed $1.6 million salary
  • Trade Sasha Kaun and his $1.3 million salary

Step Two: Scorch Some More

The Cavaliers will then have to make moves on guys who aren't technically on the roster, but have cap holds.

  • Renounce any rights to J.R. Smith and his $9.5 million cap hold
  • Renounce any rights to Richard Jefferson and his minimum $980k cap hold
  • James Jones $980k
  • Shawn Marion $980k (This dashes any hopes of using Shawn Marion in a weird Keith Van Horn scenario in the future, I guess.)

Step Three: See What's Left

When all those maneuvers are complete the Cleveland Cavaliers are on the hook for the following:

  • $21.2 million for Kevin Love
  • $17.6 million for Kyrie Irving
  • $15.3 million for Tristan Thompson
  • $875k for Jordan McRae

The Cavaliers are then paying four players $55 million. Considering the $94 million salary cap, the Cavs would have just about $39 million for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to split.

Who Says No?

The Cavaliers could make even more space if they were willing to trade either Tristan Thompson or Kevin Love and ended up taking back players with non-guaranteed money or working some other kinds of cap wizardry that we are better left to explain after David Griffin executes them. So that being the case, we'll stop this exercise right here.

Would LeBron James and Dwyane Wade be willing to split about $40 million? Would LeBron James think it's a good idea to sacrifice so much of the Cavaliers' roster in order to bring in his 34-year-old basketball brother? Would either one of them be willing to put this kind of effort into portraying this tactic to their NBA brethren in terms of NBA labor and leaving money on the table?

As I said in the open, I remain extremely skeptical that any of this is going to come to pass. But, you know, when you're talking to your friends and coworkers about it and you want to tell them exactly how it could possibly work, now you know that technically, it could be possible.


Update: After talking to @AlexRaffalli, it appears I might have missed about $3 million in generic roster cap holds. So everything applies, but the $40 million is squeezed further, showing just how difficult it truly is.


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