Even if their club doesn’t manage to re-sign Lebron James (cf. recent second meeting between the King’s men and New York Knicks officials), fans can take solace in the fact that their Cleveland Cavaliers may soon be showing off “one of the best centers in Europe.”
Okay, so BiE wouldn’t go that far. But after a breakout season with Euroleague quarterfinalist CSKA Moscow, whispers from Cavs quarters are that Sasha Kaun could be heading to Cleveland sooner rather than later – immediately, if they’re willing to take the plunge with a long-term contract.
Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant recently bestowed accolades on the 25-year-old Russian in Ohio media, particularly in light of his play two years ago when Kaun “[couldn’t] really do some things.” Combined with the Cavs’ apparent unwillingness to get with their longtime big man Zydrunas Ilgauskas, speculation has been sparked that Kaun will soon be joining the team.
(And by “soon” here, BiE specifically means “as soon as Lebron James decides and everyone exhales to start spending that cash.”)
However, there’s that perpetual obstacle still in the way of a Kaun-to-Cleveland move: a decent-sized contract buyout. Kaun is set to earn $1 million with CSKA for 2010-11, an amount that also represents the buyout price. Under current rules, Cleveland Cavaliers Basketball Inc. would only be allowed to foot $350,000 of this bill.
While at least one Russian-language source described Kaun’s jump across the puddle as basically “hopeless” (“‘Кливленд’ не оставил надежды приобрести Кауна”) for 2010-11, the same source also pointed out that Kaun could be swayed with a long-term big-money deal: a contract the Cavaliers would presumably be laying out for a potential starting center anyway.
In 2008, Kaun became the last draft pick ever made by the Seattle Supersonics, when the now-Oklahoma City Thunder picked him up at no. 56 overall out of Kansas University and immediately dealt his rights to Cleveland.
In 21 Euroleague games including playoffs in 2009-10, Kaun went for 9.1 points on incredible 71.3% “shooting” (dunking, really) and 4.6 rebounds per game. In 34 other games with CSKA spanning VTB, Russian Superleague regular season and playoffs, Kaun was good for 11.1 ppg on 72.3% shooting and 5.3 rpg.