Rumors of the Cleveland Cavaliers having an interest in restricted free agent forward P.J. Washington are being tamped down since the team has apparently not had any real discussions with the Charlotte Hornets.
Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com responded to an inquiry from a fan about a possible sign-and-trade for Washington, who has played for the Hornets for the past four seasons.
“Sources say even though Cleveland has expressed interest in acquiring Washington, and there’s a belief it is lurking, there haven’t been any extensive, detailed or meaningful trade discussions with Charlotte at this point,” Fedor wrote.
The 24-year-old Washington was originally drafted by the Hornets with the 12th overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft. He’s coming off his strongest scoring season of 15.7 points per game and reportedly looking to make in the range of $20 million per season.
Thus far, the Hornets have been reluctant to give Washington a long-term deal and don’t appear ready to change that negotiating stance.
As a restricted free agent, Washington could sign an offer sheet from another team. The Hornets could simply match that offer to keep him. A sign-and-trade is another option, provided Washington doesn’t sign an offer sheet.
Washington does have the option of playing for the Hornets at the qualifying offer of just under $8 million for the 2023-24 campaign. If he were to take that route, he would be an unrestricted free agent next year and the Hornets would likely end up with nothing in return.
Exactly who the Hornets might ask for in a sign-and-trade is uncertain. However, given the fact that Washington has been a major part of the team’s starting lineup for a good portion of his NBA career, his acquisition likely wouldn’t come cheap.
One possible reason why the Cavaliers might pursue signing Washington is because of the uncertain status of veteran guard Ricky Rubio. Earlier this month, Rubio indicated a need to take some time away from the game to focus on his mental health.
Given the delicate nature of Rubio’s situation, the Cavaliers don’t want to be in a position of pushing him to return. At the same time, the team wants to be fully prepared if Rubio chooses to either extend his sabbatical or not return at all.
For now, the Cavaliers appear ready to be patient as the team gets set for the start of training camp.