Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Big Deal
The Cavaliers trade today was not about Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak or Delonte West.

It was about LeBron James.

In fact, everything about this franchise has to do with LeBron James. Every move, every trade, every thought is about LeBron, in some form.

I doubt the Cavaliers would so much as make a uniform change without asking what he thought.

Certainly, Cavaliers' GM Danny Ferry was listening when LeBron was lobbying for Jason Kidd. He was listening when LeBron reacted the way he did after the Phoenix Suns acquire Shaquille O'Neal from the Heat.

LeBron was sending a message to Ferry and the team's ownership that he did not think he could carry the team to a championship the way it was constructed. For a franchise whose whole issue of relevance hinges on LeBron James, the message was heard: Get the man some help.

In reading over the deal, the name that jumps out is Wallace. It wasn't too long ago that the man was considered the best defensive player in the league. When he left Detroit for Chicago last season, many hyped it as the piece that would make the Bulls championship contenders.

But Wallace has been a major disappointment in Chicago. This season has been a borderline disaster. He's averaging about five points and eight rebounds a game, enough to make one speculate on whether Big Ben is done.

But Wallace won't have to be a centerpiece in Cleveland. All he has to do is defend and grab boards. The Cavaliers also are hoping that being sent to a contender (which the team is, despite a 29-24 record) will fire the 33-year old up. It's a gamble, especially for $15 million a year. But with LeBron complaining, Ferry felt it was worth the risk. I can't argue.

The player who intrigues me the most in this deal is Smith. His numbers show he scores more than Wallace and rebounds less. But he averages about 22 minutes a game and will likely come off Cleveland's bench, where he could be very valuable.

Szczerbiak was a target of the Cavaliers three or four BL (years before LeBron), and has been a decent player. He will have the chance to give the Cavaliers a dangerous perimeter shooter. He will certainly have his opportunities.

West may end up being the most important player in this deal long term. He's only 24, and could blossom into a starting point guard, which LeBron clearly needs. It's unlikely he will do so this year, though.

As for what the Cavaliers gave up:

Drew Gooden always seemed to be on the cusp of greatness. He's averaging 11 points and eight boards, but that's more a reflection of having a great game, then following it up with an inconsistent one. Still, of all the players the Cavs gave up today, he's the one I'll miss the most.

Larry Hughes and the Cavs always seemed to be like trying to fit a wooden square into a circle. It was a mismatch, hurt by Hughes' injury problems.

Ira Newble was a solid defender and little else. Donyell Marshall hit some big shots for the Cavs, but it was questionable how much he had left. The casual fan probably didn't even know Cedrick Simmons and Shannon Brown were still on the team.

It may have been a move to make a move, but that's a chance you can take when you have LeBron.



At 4:47 AM , Blogger Joel said...

As usual, you're right on: This was all about LBJ. Which I don't like, but I understand. The best part of it is that it still provides Ferry room and flexibility for life ALBJ.


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