SALT LAKE CITY — If the Cleveland Cavaliers are able to land coveted big man Kevin Love this summer, they might owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz confirmed Tuesday evening they had traded three players with non-guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season — point guard John Lucas III and forwards Malcom Thomas and Erik Murphy — to the Cavaliers for guard/forward Carrick Felix, a 2015 second-round draft pick and cash considerations, reportedly $1 million.
"We've been looking for wing depth, and Carrick is a young player with a defensive mindset," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "We've watched him at Arizona State and at Cleveland and in the D-League and feel like with his defensive mindset and toughness, he could be a good complement to our young group.
"If you can defend the athletic wings in this league and make an open shot and can move the ball, you have a chance to play for Quin Snyder and the Utah Jazz."
The deal, first announced by Yahoo Sports, will give Cleveland increased trade asset flexibility and more salary cap maneuverability in its bid to put together a blockbuster deal for Love, an All-Star power forward with one year remaining on his current contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Cavs have been trying to swing a deal for Love since signing free agent superstar LeBron James a couple of weeks ago.
Felix, a 6-foot-6 swingman out of Arizona State, averaged 2.7 points in seven games with Cleveland last season, his first in the NBA. He also appeared in nine games with the Canton Charge in the NBA Development League, averaging 11 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
He was taken in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Cavs. Before that, he played three seasons at Arizona State, averaging 14.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks as a senior, when he was named to the All-Pac-12 second team and to the league's All-Defensive Team. He played his freshman year at the College of Southern Idaho.
Felix, who turns 24 next month, has one guaranteed year remaining on his contract.
Lucas, a 5-11 point guard, averaged 3.8 points and 1 assist in 42 games for the Jazz last season. Thomas, a 6-9 forward out of San Diego State, averaged 1.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in eight NBA games with Utah and San Antonio last season. The 6-10 Murphy was claimed off waivers on April 5 but did not appear in a game with the Jazz.