With two months until training camp, the Atlanta Hawks elected to part ways with Jaylen Morris and his non-guaranteed salary for the 2018-19 season. In short, that was a move that made sense given the salary cap implications and, if the two sides want to be in business together moving forward, a training camp invite could still come to pass.
After a brief hiatus (with a trade in the middle), the Hawks elected to execute a similar maneuver with Antonius Cleveland, waiving the 24-year-old wing. Like Morris, Cleveland was set for a $1.378 million non-guaranteed salary for the upcoming campaign and, with this move, that is wiped off Atlanta’s salary cap sheet.
As I reported was coming, the Hawks have waived Antonius Cleveland.— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) July 21, 2018
As an important aspect of the decision, Cleveland had to be waived in order to facilitate the trade sending Dennis Schröder to Oklahoma City (and Mike Muscala to Philadelphia), as the Hawks would not have had the salary cap space to execute such a deal otherwise. As such, the Cleveland move was announced before any official announcement of the trade.
Though Cleveland displays more upside than Morris based on raw physical tools, this is an unsurprising move, especially given the presence of the increased salary cap flexibility. On the heels of the decision to waive Cleveland, Atlanta now has 13 players under contract (including Anthony, for now), all with guaranteed salaries, and the Hawks could carry as many as 20 into training camp before cutting down to a maximum of 15 for the regular season. The trade won’t change that, as the Hawks are sending out and receiving two players, though waiving Anthony will open up another spot on the final roster.
After waiving Cleveland, the team will operate with approximately $10.4 million in salary cap space for the shortest time possible, as almost every dime of that space will be eaten up by the trade to bring in Anthony when it is announced. How much space actually remains after Anthony is bought out remains to be seen.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see Cleveland, Morris, or both return for camp but, for now, Atlanta will move on without either wing under contract.