The 76ers dealt Nailon and their 2006 second-round pick to Cleveland on Thursday, getting back the Cavs' much-traveled 2006 second-round pick.
Once the 76ers clear Jamal Mashburn's contract off their salary cap, they'll have about a half-million dollars to offer Thomas, without incurring a luxury tax, should Thomas be bought out of his current contract with the Chicago Bulls.
The New Jersey Nets also made a trade Thursday with an eye toward acquiring Thomas, sending forwards Marc Jackson and Linton Johnson to New Orleans for Bostjan Nachbar. It was not immediately clear if the Nets had given themselves enough financial flexibility to outbid the Sixers for Thomas, who must be waived by 11:59 p.m. on March 1 in order to retain his postseason eligibility.
Nailon signed with the Sixers in the offseason and was expected to provide an offensive boost off the bench after averaging a career-high 14.2 points last season with the New Orleans Hornets. Instead, Nailon hasn't played since the end of last month after he was arrested following a domestic dispute.
Nailon, 30, played in 22 games this season, averaging 4.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game. His best game was against the Los Angeles Clippers in November, when he had a season-high 21 points and six rebounds.
Nailon played briefly for the Cavaliers in 2003-04, averaging 7.7 points in 22 games. He's played with six NBA teams in a six-year career.
Nailon appeared in 22 games for Philadelphia, averaging 4.2 points and 1.9 rebounds. The Cavs will be the seventh NBA team he has played for in six seasons.
The second-round pick that Cleveland sent to Philadelphia has now been traded three times. Cleveland originally sent it to Orlando in a deal for Martynas Andriuskevicius, then got it back from Orlando in a swap for the second-round pick the Cavs received from the Bucks in the Jiri Welsch trade. By acquiring Philadelphia's pick, the Cavs also acquire the option to swap second-round picks with New Jersey -- a remnant of an earlier Marc Jackson trade in which he went from the 76ers to the Nets.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.