The Cavaliers are looking to clear cap space for a run at LeBron James, and the Nets were there to help.
ESPN reports the Cavs, Nets and Celtics have agreed to a three-team deal, though it cannot be made official until Thursday when free agent signing begin.
The Nets add point guard Jarrett Jack and forward Sergey Karasev from Cleveland, while the Cavs will receive European prospects Edin Bavcic, Christian Drejer and Ilkan Karaman from Brooklyn. None have played in the NBA, and they will likely stay in Europe as the Cavs prefer the cap space.
The Celtics will receive center Tyler Zeller and a first-round draft pick from Cleveland and guard Marcus Thornton from the Nets. The 2016 first-round pick is top-10 protected in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Starting with 2019 it would not be protected.
More importantly for Cleveland, it will free up cap space in order to pursue free agents, most notably James.
Jack is due $12.6 million over the next two seasons at an annual cap hit of $6.3 million. There is another $6.3 million team option in 2016-17, though it’s unlikely that will ever be picked up.
The 30-year-old point guard out of Georgia Tech has played nine years in the NBA. He averaged 9.1 points and 4.1 assists per game last season for Cleveland, who signed him just last offseason. Jack has played for six teams (Portland, Indiana, Toronto, New Orleans, Golden State, Cleveland) in his career and averaged 10.9 points and 4.3 assists per game.
Jack will provide some insurance for Deron Williams, who had surgery on both ankles during the offseason. Williams has been inconsistent at best — and often injured — during his tenure with the Nets.
The Nets lost last year’s backup point guard Shaun Livingston to the Warriors earlier this offseason.
Karasev is an interesting prospect for the Nets, and likely convinced Brooklyn to add the bloated salary of Jack. Karasev was the No. 19 overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Russia. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard played sparingly for the Cavs, just seven minutes per game, as a rookie but he is just 20 years old. He spent time in the D-League with Canton as well. Karasev was a member of Russia’s bronze medal-winning Olympic team in 2012 at just 18.
Zeller was the No. 17 overall pick in 2012 out of North Carolina. The 7-foot-1, 253-pound center has been solid if not spectacular in his first two seasons. He averaged 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game as a rookie, including 55 starts. But he was a bench player last season, and averaged just 5.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Thornton is a five-year pro who split time between Sacramento and Brooklyn last season. He was a nice addition for the Nets last season, averaging 12.3 points per game off the bench and shooting 38 percent from behind the arc.
Follow Metro National Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.