Cavaliers get: 2017 Charlotte second-round pick (top-55 protected)
Hornets get: Center Chris Andersen, cash considerations
An Andersen trade has been only a matter of time since he tore his ACL in practice on Dec. 16. There was no good reason to keep Andersen, who is on a one-year contract, on a roster that's already short-handed. However, if the Cavaliers had waived Andersen, the portion of his veterans minimum salary the team pays ($980,481) would go on their luxury-tax bill.
Because the tax calculation is set based only on the team's year-end books, trading Andersen removes him entirely. And because of Cleveland's current tax bracket, that saves the team 2.5 times his salary in taxes (about $2.45 million). The Cavaliers also save another $335K in salary remaining on Andersen's contract, per cap specialist Albert Nahmad.
The cash Cleveland sent to Charlotte cuts into that savings, but the Cavaliers were limited to offering $750,000 after previously spending most of their $3.5 million allowed annually to facilitate several other trades, according to BasketballInsiders.com. Under the reasonable presumption Cleveland sent all the cash possible to the Hornets, they still come out a little more than $2 million ahead here.
Given how limited the Cavaliers are in future draft picks -- they don't own their second-round pick outright until 2023 -- it was important that they complete this trade without giving up a pick, and they managed to accomplish that goal.
The Hornets come out ahead financially here too, though more modestly than Cleveland. Charlotte, which is nowhere near the luxury tax, can immediately waive Andersen and make about $415,000 presuming they got the maximum allowable cash.
The only requirement for making this trade was having a roster spot free to take Andersen in, and the Hornets were the league's only team with just 13 players on guaranteed contracts, so there was no issue there. They can still re-sign their 15th player, D-League call-up Mike Tobey, to another 10-day contract after Andersen is officially waived.
To fulfill the need for every trade to send something both ways, Charlotte sent out this year's second-round pick protected unless it falls in the bottom five picks of the draft. Given that the Hornets are currently below .500, there is no realistic chance of that happening.