Deal believed to be worth $65M to $70M

Updated: July 9, 2005, 7:49 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider

Larry Hughes has come to terms with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a five-year deal, his agent, Jeff Wechsler, told ESPN Insider Chad Ford.

Larry Hughes
Shooting Guard
Washington Wizards
Profile
2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
61 22.0 6.3 4.7 .430 .777

"Larry intends to sign a contract with the Cavs when the moratorium ends," Wechsler said.

Wechsler wouldn't comment on the actual numbers of the deal, but it's believed to be a five-year deal between $65 million and $70 million.

Wechsler told Insider that he informed Washington Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld on Thursday that Hughes won't be returning to the Wizards.

"Larry's agent informed us that he will not be returning to the Washington Wizards," Wizards spokesman Zack Bolno told The Associated Press on Friday. "Obviously, we provided Larry with a very fair and meaningful offer."

For the Cavs, Hughes gives them a great scorer and defender to put at the two alongside LeBron James. Hughes is a fantastic ball handler and rebounder for a two-guard making him -- like LeBron -- a very versatile piece in the puzzle. However, he's not a perfect fit in Cleveland. Hughes is not a good 3-point shooter (a big need for the Cavs), has a history of injuries and has been inconsistent throughout his career.

The Cavs had pursued both Ray Allen and Michael Redd before settling on Hughes.

With Hughes on board, the Cavs will now focus their atttention on bringing back free agent Zydrunas Ilgauskas. They're also in hot pursuit of Lithuanian point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius, widely regarded as the best international player not playing in the NBA. The Cavs should have roughly $15 million left under the cap (based on an estimated $49 million cap) to make it happen.

The news comes as major blow to the Wizards, who were confident they could re-sign Hughes. The Wizards eventually offered up to six years, $70 million, a source within the team told ESPN.com, but it wasn't enough to keep Hughes in D.C..

The Wizards now have to start over from scratch. The team now has a big hole at the two to fill and must also deal with the likely departure of Kwame Brown. The Wizards can get about $9 million below the cap if they don't re-sign Brown. However, the market for two guards is getting thin.

The last major two guard on the market is Joe Johnson. However, Johnson is a restricted free agent and most teams believe that the Suns will match any offer. There's also talk from multiple league sources that Johnson is in serious negotiations with the Atlanta Hawks about signing a max offer sheet.

That leaves Bobby Simmons, Cuttino Mobley and Latrell Sprewell as the top two guards left on the board. The Wizards could also, at this point, try to work out a sign-and-trade with Brown that brings them back a top-flight shooting guard.

Cavaliers spokesman Tad Carper declined to comment on Hughes, saying the team is not speaking about the free agency process.

A member of the Wizards' so-called Big Three, along with Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison, Hughes helped Washington reach the playoffs for the first time since 1997. The Wizards' first-round defeat of the Chicago Bulls was the franchise's first playoff series victory since 1982.

Hughes has averaged 15.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists over seven NBA seasons with Washington, Golden State and Philadelphia.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider