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NBA Daily: Rodney Hood Could Break The Bank In Cleveland

The Cleveland Cavaliers area already facing a huge luxury tax bill. Rodney Hood’s restricted free agency could make it worse.

Buddy Grizzard profile picture
Updated 10 months ago on
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While the Cavaliers’ blockbuster trade that sent out six players and returned George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. gave Cleveland an infusion of talent, it didn’t ease the salary crunch the team was already feeling. ESPN cap analyst Bobby Marks tweeted that the Cavaliers are facing a $50 million luxury tax bill ahead of an offseason when the team will need to address Hood’s potential restricted free agency.

Looking at Cleveland’s salary cap situation for next season, assuming that LeBron James stays with the Cavs and his 2018-19 salary will be something like the $35.6 million player option he will almost certainly decline to sign a longer-term deal, the team would be on the books for nearly $138 million for 10 players, not including Hood. With the luxury tax estimated around $15 million below that figure, the Cavaliers could be facing a massive repeater tax penalty if it retains both James and Hood on new contracts.

At the Cavaliers’ first practice with the new additions at Philips Arena Saturday, Hood said he was expecting to be traded, just not to the Cavaliers.

“I wasn’t really stunned that I would be moved, but to come to Cleveland I was very surprised,” said Hood. “To get a chance to play with a great organization, great players, and get a chance to go deep in the playoffs, it’s exciting for a young player.”

Hood was expected to start for the Jazz this season after small forward Gordon Hayward departed to the Celtics as a free agent. Instead, rookie Donovan Mitchell is having a breakout season, which relegated Hood to the bench. In Cleveland, that role may continue. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue remains committed to J.R. Smith in the starting lineup, according to an ESPN report.

Since Hood was arguably the incoming centerpiece of the set of trades the Cavaliers made on deadline day, this means Cleveland will be relying on Hood to help the team meet expectations in the postseason and help convince James to stay. That’s a lot of pressure to place on a young player who has struggled with injuries and hasn’t been part of a deep postseason run.

For now, Hood is placing an emphasis on fitting in. He said that the incoming talent for the Cavaliers, which included a pair of point guards in Hill and Clarkson, should mesh well with James’ penchant for ball movement. Hood is himself a shooting guard known for his ability to move the ball and create opportunities for his teammates.

“I think it will be fun, especially with the passing we’ve got on the team with LeBron [and] George, me and Jordan,” said Hood.

Early returns were promising Sunday as the Cavaliers blew out the Celtics 121-99 as Hill, Clarkson, and Hood each scored in double figures. The team will get one more look at the new configuration tonight as Cleveland faces the Thunder in Oklahoma City in the team’s final contest before the All-Star break.

The Cavaliers were desperate for a culture reset ahead of the trade deadline. But with Hill set to make a guaranteed $19 million next season, Clarkson $12.5 million and a potential restricted free agency bonanza for Hood, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert will have to write some huge luxury tax checks to keep this team together.

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Buddy Grizzard has written for ESPN.com and BBallBreakdown and served as an editor for ESPN TrueHoop Network.

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