“There is an extra bone in his foot that is causing irritation, and the plan is to have it removed,” Bartelstein said.
Harris, selected with the No. 33 pick in the second round of the 2014 draft by Cleveland, had regressed in his sophomore season, partially because of the foot injury that has lingered for months and also due to the Cavs addressing their depth in the offseason and pushing the 6-foot-6, 219-pound Harris out of the rotation.
After averaging 2.7 points and shooting 36.9 percent from 3-point range in 9.7 minutes per game as a rookie while making one start, Harris has only played in five of Cleveland’s first 32 games in his second year, averaging 0.6 points on 25-percent shooting in just 3.0 minutes of playing time.
Harris did not accompany the Cavs on their six-game road trip beginning Wednesday against the Washington Wizards, according to Bartelstein. A team source told ESPN.com that Harris will seek a second opinion on his foot, but the expectation is he will undergo surgery sometime next week.
Cleveland has the highest payroll in the league at $110.2 million this season. That figure will reach approximately $175 million with luxury tax fees by season’s end if the Cavs do not make any changes to their current roster.
Prior to Harris’ injury, the Cavs had looked for trade suitors for him, according to a team source, in order to gain some roster flexibility and avoid some of the luxury tax hit associated with a 15th man who did not fit in Cleveland coach David Blatt’s rotation. Suitors were hard to come by with Harris’ underwhelming showing for the Canton Charge, the Cavs’ D-League affiliate, this season. He averaged 16.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists but shot just 39.7 percent from the field and 32.3 percent on 3-pointers in 10 games with Canton.
Harris’ potential surgery comes at an interesting time for Jared Cunningham, another fringe rotation player for the Cavs. Cleveland must decide by Friday whether to retain Cunningham for the rest of the season to have his contract clear waivers before it becomes fully guaranteed Jan. 10.
Cunningham will accompany the Cavs on their road trip and the team is “leaning towards” keeping him for the rest of the season, according to a source, although no final decision has been made yet.
Cunningham, a 6-foot-4, 195 combo guard who has played time at the 1, 2 and 3 for Cleveland this season and even started three games when Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert and Mo Williams were injured, is averaging 3.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 0.4 steals in 12.2 minutes per game, but his biggest impact has been his ball pressure as a wing defender.
“We wouldn’t have won that Portland game without him,” a team source told ESPN.com, referring to the Cavs’ 105-100 win over the Trail Blazers on Dec. 8 when Cleveland stormed back from a 17-point first half deficit. Cunningham played a career-high 35 minutes and started in the second half as the Cavs closed with a small-ball lineup to help snap a three-game losing streak at the time.
Cunningham’s minutes have been cut since Irving made his season debut eight games ago, collecting three DNP-CDs in that time. However, the Cavs see Cunningham as a youthful, versatile, athletic piece of insurance to have on the bench and as a positive part of the locker room culture, according to a team source.
Keeping Cunningham could cost the Cavs more than $4 million all told between his $981,348 salary and the luxury tax fees it will bring, however owner Dan Gilbert has already made it clear that money is no object in his pursuit of a championship this season. Furthermore, a team source insisted to ESPN.com that Harris’ situation will not determine Cunningham’s security on the team moving forward.
"I think Jared has done a great job since Day 1," Blatt said this week. "I don't think anyone has any questions about Jared's ability to play for us, to help us, to play in this league. There are other issues at hand, contractual issues that are really not so much my decisions to make, but Jared has acquitted himself well here from Day 1."