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Smallwood: Cavs could be winners of Sixers-Mavs trade

THE CLEVELAND Cavaliers did not work themselves into last Thursday's NBA deadline trade between the Sixers and Dallas Mavericks. Still, for the short-term results, the reigning champions could end up the big winners because of it.

THE CLEVELAND Cavaliers did not work themselves into last Thursday's NBA deadline trade between the Sixers and Dallas Mavericks.

Still, for the short-term results, the reigning champions could end up the big winners because of it.

When the Sixers traded Nerlens Noel for swingman Justin Anderson and a protected first-round pick that everyone acknowledges will turn into two second-round picks, nobody really talked about veteran center Andrew Bogut also coming to South Philadelphia in the deal.

While Anderson was on the Sixers' bench for Friday's game against Washington and Saturday's at New York, Bogut was not with the team. He likely never will be - at least not for the end of the 2016-17 season.

It was assumed the Sixers would either waive or work out a buyout with the 32-year-old Bogut, allowing him to pursue an opportunity with a playoff team.

On Monday, the Sixers reached an agreement with Bogut to release him.

On Sunday, reported that the Cleveland was the favorite to sign Bogut should he get his release and clear waivers, but now it says he will talk to Boston, Houston and San Antonio as well as the Cavaliers. It was critical that Bogut was waived before Thursday because he now retains his eligibility to play in the playoffs.

Over the weekend, the Sixers and Bogut were reported to be discussing a buyout, but in their official release announcing the waiving of Bogut, there was no mention of a buyout.

That doesn't necessarily mean one did not happen, but the actual money involved is so little that it was nothing to squabble over.

The Sixers acquired Bogut for the sole purpose of adding his $9 million salary-cap number to reach the floor of $84.7 million.

With just less than a third of the regular season remaining, Dallas had already paid Bogut between $6 million and $7 million of his contract.

The Sixers could have played hardball to get some money back from Bogut, but it would look not good to potential free-agent targets or their agents if the Sixers kept him from joining a playoff team over less than $3 million.

This isn't like in 2015 when the Sixers took on the contract of center JaVale McGee from Denver while acquiring a late-first-round pick in the 2016 draft.

The Sixers wanted McGee's salary-cap number to reach the floor and then planned to buy him out. The thing was, McGee was owed the remainder of his $11.25 million for 2014-15 plus another $12 million for 2015-16.

No, thank you, McGee said, I'll keep all of my money rather than chase a ring. He played six games with the Sixers before they waived him. He signed with Dallas but the Sixers ended up paying him $10.75 million for 2015-16.

Had Bogut remained in Philadelphia, he probably wouldn't have seen much time on the court. The Sixers traded Noel, who was a restricted free agent, to help clear up the logjam with the other young centers - Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Richaun Holmes.

Giving minutes to Bogut would have just make things murky again and serve no purpose.

Even now with Embiid set to undergo an MRI for his injured knee, the Sixers wouldn't have likely used Bogut, preferring to give maximum minutes to Okafor to possibly build up his stock for an offseason trade and get Holmes valuable experience as a backup center.

The Sixers did Bogut a serious "one-ups." He had played just 26 games because of injury but will now get minutes for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

That would be beneficial to him in a contract year.

If Bogut, who won a ring with Golden State, is serious about a chasing a second title, Cleveland offers him the best chance.

With the Cavs, Bogut would be a physical presence off the bench who can rebound and protect the paint. Presently, the Cavs are using wiry forward Channing Frye as the backup at center to Tristan Thompson.

If Bogut does sign with Cleveland, the Sixers-Mavericks trade could end up being the key to the Cavaliers' playoff run.

Also, the Cavs on Monday signed veteran point guard Deron Williams, who cleared waivers after the Mavericks released him last week. Williams was let go because rookie point guard Yogi Ferrell is a better fit as Dallas transitions to life after Dirk Nowitzki - which was also the motivation for the Noel trade.

The 32-year-old Williams, who is averaging 13.1 points and 6.9 assists, isn't the player he once was but will be a valuable backup to All-Star Kyrie Irving.

With a league-high $127 million payroll, Cleveland was well over the salary cap and not able to do much at the deadline.

Thanks to the Sixers-Mavericks trade, however, Cleveland could end up with waiver-wire players who will increase their odds of repeating.

That would make the Cavaliers the immediate winners of a trade they had no nothing to do with.