LeBron James deciding to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers appears to be a conduit to the New Orleans Pelicans finalizing their trade with the Houston Rockets for center Omer Asik.
The Pelicans announced Friday evening they acquired small forward Alonzo Gee from the Cleveland Cavaliers for unspecified draft considerations.
The Cavaliers are clearing salary-cap space to sign James to a maximum contract.
In trying to clear space to sign Asik and land a small forward, addressing the Pelicans’ two biggest needs, General Manager Dell Demps said on draft night things could get interesting.
Asik will be paid $8.4 million next season. What remains to be seen is whether Gee will be retained.
The Pelicans, who did not re-sign a handful of free agents, have nine players under contract. Gee, a five-year veteran from Alabama, would be entering is the final year of a three-year, $9.75 million contract. However, its is nonguaranteed at $3 million remaining.
The Pelicans could waive Gee, 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, or trade him to another team. Gee averaged just 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds last season, but has career averages of 7.9 and 3.6.
He averaged 10.6 points in 2011-12 with the Cavaliers and 10.3 in ‘12-13.
The Cavs would like to get a center in return, and the Pelicans’ Alexis Ajenca and center Jeff Withey have been rumored as trade possibilities. So has point guard Austin Rivers. Ajencia is scheduled to be paid $981,084 next season, Withey $816,482 and Rivers $2.44 million.