The Cleveland Cavaliers made out like bandits at the NBA trade deadline, swapping a handful of players and picks to bring in four meaningful contributors, but that almost was not the case because of one player.
The 20-year-old Greek center was averaging 2.1 points and 2.3 rebounds over 7.4 minutes per game for the Sacramento Kings, but because of him, the Cavs almost missed out on George Hill and Rodney Hood.
Hill and Hood were involved in the three-team trade between the Cavs, Kings and Utah Jazz, but because of the sudden last-minute attempt by the Kings to insert Papagiannis into the deal, everything nearly folded, as detailed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski in a piece on how the Cavs swung all their deals.
“A 3 a.m. ET deal memo sent from Sacramento to Cleveland left (Cavs GM Koby) Altman at first incredulous — and then angry,” Wojnarowski wrote. “Suddenly, Kings center Georgios Papagiannis had been included as part of the three-way trade. Cleveland and Utah were adamant that Papagiannis’ name had never been discussed. (Kings assistant GM Brandon) Williams would later say that Papagiannis or Malachi Richardson were set to be included in the deals and insisted his notes confirmed that.
“In the middle of the night, Altman and Williams vocally disagreed over the insertion of Papagiannis into the trade,” Wojnarowski continued. “Cleveland couldn’t take him into its roster because the NBA’s repeater tax would turn the balance of his $2.3 million contract this year and $2.4 million next year into three times that with the luxury-tax bill.
“In the morning, Altman let the Jazz know about Sacramento’s inclusion of Papagiannis. Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was livid. To him, this was a deal-breaker. He hadn’t dealt directly with Sacramento, because there had been no need: The deal went through Cleveland, and Altman had never suggested to Lindsey that Utah would have to take a 7-foot draft bust onto his roster.”
Eventually, the three sides worked it out, but it wasn’t easy and it took some reworking. The Jazz had to eat $1.1 million in order to make the deal work, and Altman was convincing enough to ensure that happened.
Once the trade was complete, the Cavs had sent Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose to the Jazz, and Iman Shumpert went to the Kings. Hill and Hood, meanwhile, have become instant contributors for the new-look Cavs.
The Kings waived Papagiannis after the trade deadline had passed.
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