Cleveland has agreed to send Jefferson, Felder, two second-round draft picks and $3 million to the Atlanta Hawks in a move that will allow the Eastern Conference champions to avoid paying $12 million in luxury tax penalties, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Friday.
In return, the Cavs will get the rights to two overseas players, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the league still has to approve the transaction. The deal could be completed later Friday or Saturday morning.
Jefferson and Felder were both on Cleveland’s bench for Friday night’s exhibition finale at Orlando. Jefferson did not return to the sideline for the second half, but Felder did. Neither logged any minutes.
Jefferson and Felder left without talking to reporters. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue declined comment.
Derrick Rose, who joined the team this offseason, said he was unaware Jefferson and Felder had been traded.
”Wow,” Rose said upon hearing of the deal. ”My journey is different but it’s a business and I understand it. While they were here they were great guys.”
Cleveland’s roster filled up quickly after the club also signed Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green and Jose Calderon during the offseason. The Cavs needed to clear two roster spots before Tuesday’s season opener and they’ve been looking for a team to do business with for several weeks.
The 37-year-old Jefferson spent two seasons with Cleveland, which signed him as a free agent in 2015. He was a key contributor during the 2016 championship season, coming off the bench to provide an offensive spark. He appeared in 79 games last season, averaging 5.7 points in 20.4 minutes.
Felder was selected in the second round of the 2016 draft. He played in 42 games for Cleveland last season, averaging 4.0 points.
Any chance Felder had of working his way into the rotation ended when the Cavs signed Rose and Calderon, who will handle the team’s point guard duties while Isaiah Thomas recovers from a back injury.