Kaun could be Cavs newest big man


VIDEO: LeBron James hits a shot from his seat at Summer League

LAS VEGAS — LeBron James made an appearance at Summer League on Friday, watching his Cleveland Cavaliers play Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves. James sat courtside with Cavs GM David Griffin, head coach David Blatt, assistants Tyronn Lue and Larry Drew, as well as a seven-footer who could be the next member of Cleveland’s frontline.

His name is Sasha Kaun. He’s a 30-year old center from Russia, who played at Kansas and was selected in the second round of the 2008 Draft. The Cavs acquired his rights that night from the Seattle SuperSonics, but Kaun has played the last seven seasons for CSKA Moscow.

Kaun averaged 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 67 games with CSKA last season, shooting 68 percent from the field. Kaun recently told the Lawrence Journal-World that “as of now, I’m done playing in Russia and pretty sure I’m done in Europe.”

That would point to a possible contract with the Cavs, and all indications are that the team would like to have him on its roster come fall. Cleveland will be getting Anderson Varejao back from a torn Achilles this season, but Varejao has played just 126 (32 percent) of a possible 394 games over the last five years. And Cleveland could upgrade Kendrick Perkins‘ spot as the team’s third center by signing Kaun. Perkins is a free agent.

The issue is that the Cavs are limited in what they can pay Kaun. With only nine players signed (not including Brendan Haywood‘s $10.5 million, non-guaranteed contract), they’re already over the luxury tax line. They still have to pay restricted free agents Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova, and whomever they might trade Haywood for. It’s very likely that owner Dan Gilbert will be paying $200 million (salary + luxury tax) for his roster in 2015-16.

As taxpayers, the Cavs only have the taxpayer’s mid-level exception (which starts at a little less than $3.4 million) and minimum contracts to spend on new free agents or Kaun. And they’ve already used most of that tax MLE on Mo Williams. All that’s left is about $1.3 million (as a starting salary). So the biggest contract that could give Kaun is a three-year deal worth about $4.0 million.

If Kaun didn’t want to accept that, the Cavs could trade his rights to a team that could (and would be willing to) pay him more. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix wrote last week that the Brooklyn Nets have talked to the Cavs about Kaun, though Brooklyn’s ill-advised addition of Andrea Bargnani may be an indication that they’ve moved on.

Kaun’s presence with the Cavs’ contingent on Friday is obviously a sign that he may be willing to make the financial sacrifice. And he has a history with Blatt. Along with current Cavs center Timofey Mozgov, Kaun played on the Russian National Team, coached by Blatt, at the 2010 World Championship and the 2012 Olympics, where the Russians won the bronze medal.

21 Comments

  1. michael says:

    its gonna be at least an another 2 or 3 years before the cavs are ready to win a championship

  2. risingsun1 says:

    The manner TT & Mozgov ate up the warriors and most teams they played all last season we got enough big men, esp with Andy coming back but if they can get Khan cheaply why not stack the deck? I just wanna see Cleveland dump any player who can’t contribute and sits on the bench occupying space replaced with talent! Lack of depth cost us a title last season, I hope Griffin and Gilbert stay smart and committed they have so far, they will bring a championship to Cleveland! Whomever doesn’t like it or wanna see it OH WELL! With LBJ doin work and with a lil help form his friends Love and Irving we fixin to hit a lick fools!We don’t care you don’t like it, we don’t care youre jealous of us having the best player playin, we are a team on a mission..you just watch Cleveland, best team in Basketball..watch!

  3. caloyski says:

    I don’t think Russian center would settle for a 4.0M USD contract for the next 3 years–small by international standards.

  4. terst says:

    Jeez, what did Bargnani do to Schuhmann? In an article about the Cavs, he has to point out the “ill-advised addition of Bargnani”… I’ve never seen so much hate from a journalist on any player here on NBA.com.
    Really looking forward to when Il Mago will make you regret your words!

  5. Deutztony says:

    Any news on Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson to Cavs?

  6. Deutztony says:

    I prefer Sasha Kaun to be in the Cavs to be an another big man under the rim. Varejao, Mosgov, Thompson, and Kaun. The team just needs chemistry. But we still need to get back JR Smith and Dellavedova. I prefer Perkins and Haywood to be traded to other teams.

  7. Jorge says:

    Who was the center in the finals for the Warriors? Green 6’7″ you need more bigs Cleveland.

  8. T says:

    This season will be the year for them to when it all

  9. T says:

    They need a shooter bad

  10. blankczech says:

    Has anyone gone to youtube to see Kaun in action. He appears to be a decent player (I don’t remember him at Kansas). You can actually watch him play against Mozgov (he seems to hold his own but you have to remember that it is a Kaun highlight reel). I’m not a Cavs fan so I don’t care what they do. As an outside observer I’m not overly impressed with Tristan Thompson and think it would be foolish to give him a max deal. l see little upside in Thompson’s game. He is what he is…a nice blue collar worker…he’ll block an occasional shot and get you some offensive rebounds…and that about sums up his value. His poor free throw shooting makes him a liability late in games.

  11. melvin says:

    the cavs are NOT going to win in 2016 either. a bunch of old players and injury prone players that play in the weakest conference in the nba. the east will continue to be the weakest and the city of cleveland will still be losers when it comes to sports. the west will dominate the east like they have in the past so get ready for another disappointment because queen james is NOT going to bring your city a championship.

  12. specialfriedrice says:

    last thing they need is another big…how much of a kick in the balls is that to Thompson and Mozgov…instrumental in helping the Cavs into the Finals…Thompson is a better fit than Love (and actually rebounds and owns the paint…not a 6’8 shooting guard and Mosgov, double double machine, inside game shoots jumpers and blocks shots….seriously the complete big man package

  13. Ms. Penny says:

    Cavs need shooters not Big men. Keep the two draft picks for small contracts. Might have to let Joe Harris go to D-league.

    Team: LeBron, Kyrie, TT, Mozy, Love

    Others: Perkins, JJ, Varejao, Mo, Delly, Shump, JR, Miller, Rakeem (draft pick), Sir Dominic Pointer (Draft pick)

    Key Losses: Haywood, Harris (d-league), Marion (retired), Sasha(trade for cash)

    Let’s roll into training camp!

  14. haha says:

    Great addition ?
    Cavs ( including almost all other teams ) need a real oldschool center. Someone like Yao or Shaq.
    Pair that with lebron, Thomson, a defensief minded PG and SG who can shoot…WAUW.

    Until then…cavs can only dream about a championship. They were lucky to reach the finals. Only because they have the beste player.

  15. Harriethehawk says:

    I would really like to see who they actually end up with, before I can say this is a championship caliber team. Irving and Love need to ready to go too.

  16. DRKNOW says:

    Why not trade Varejao?

    • Robert says:

      Because Anderson was with that team through thick and thin..he was there when everyone left and when there record was horrible…sometimes it’s more then business when it comes to these types of situations and as a owner it’s hard

  17. Nate says:

    sweet addiction…chermistry all around.I like this…..