As the NBA trade deadline draws closer, we find ourselves absorbed in every little rumor that we hear or read and we begin to speculate about how the Cavaliers may improve their roster and their chances to win the NBA Championship and thusly keep LeBron James. The Cavs have been in talks, supposedly, to bring in several guys this year, Antawn Jamison, Amare Stoudemire, David West, and a few others. Before I really started to pay incredibly close attention to the NBA a few years ago, I would have said HELL YES to a trade for either one of those 3 guys, and I still would not be upset in any way shape or form if we did pull the trigger on such a trade. But the Cavs and all the fans find themselves in this dilemma this year, like each of the past few years, on whether or not the team should make a move. Looking at the previous history of this franchise, the past few times a big trade has been made to ‘win’ a championship, it has failed. That huge Ben Wallace trade that brought us in practically a new lineup didn’t work, it laid the groundwork for today’s roster which has a much better chance of bringing a title.
Let us think about this rationally for a few minutes. The current Cavaliers roster is good, solid almost from top to bottom. What more can you ask for? We have LeBron James. The greatest player in the NBA, he is on his way to being the greatest ever… if he can win some titles. Shaq. Simply put, the most dominant presence int he history of the NBA, and while he is old and out of shape, he is still a force down low. JJ Hickson, not the greatest starting Power Forward, but he is beginning to come around. He has shown flashes of being a big time post player this year, a big one last night against the T-Wolves front court of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. -Sidenote- if we were to make a trade, I would highly suggest it be for Al Jefferson and not anyone else – Mo Williams, the 2nd leading scorer and an all-star caliber Point Guard. Delonte West, a spark plug of a player to say the least, who can score, shoot, defend and pass. Andy, a should be all-star in some people’s minds. One of the best players in the NBA if you look at +/-, rebounding, defense, effort and hair. He is all out balls to the wall on every play. I’m not going to go into every single player, but this team works incredibly well together, beats just about everyone that they should beat, and have been winning without Delonte and Mo the last week with some ease over some of the toughest competition the NBA has to offer. I know that Danny Ferry wants to make a big move to both clear up cap space and bring in another star to convince LeBron that Cleveland is his home. I can get on board with that thinking, Amare would be a game changer every night and would make the team impossible to defend, because him, James and Shaq would all warrant some double teams and it would create havoc. The same could be said for Jefferson, West and Jamison. But… Amare is a headache. We know, from Shaq’s time in Phoenix, that they do not play well together. Amare’s ego is sometimes bigger then his play, and he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty on defense… which means he will not fit in on this team. The Cavs defense has not been what it was last year, but it is still the top priority. So lets do us all a favor and mark him off the list. He would create problems for both Cavaliers opponents and for the Cavaliers, he would demand the ball too much on offense and this would go against the team’s philosophy of spreading it around, but on one hand that would open up James so much more. I have been going back and forth on Amare for a week now, but I think if the team makes a trade, it should NOT be for him. Jamison is old, he is still a dynamite scorer and a hard nosed defender, but he is nearing the end of his NBA effectiveness if you prescribe to common sense. Very few players stay at the top of their game past or at the age of Jamison. No go for Antawn. NO. Stop. Then there is David West. There is no doubt that he might be one of the top 5 PF’s int he NBA. He can score on the perimeter, he can bang inside, he can rebound and defend. He has HUGE contract. Plays for a team that, despite having not the best record, is convinced they can win a championship. They won’t move him unless the price is right, and the Cavs don’t have the pieces to pull of a trade like that. So there is the three biggest names that the Cavs have been linked to.
My consensus is that if it were down to those 3 guys for a trade, that the team should stand pat. The team’s roster is solid right now, and any trade would make it so that Ilgauskus would be traded, Hickson would go, Anthony Parker maybe, D-Block would go. For a guy like Amare that is a lot to give up for a contract that would hinder further moves by the team, same for West. Jamison is the easiest to see on the team, he plays selflessly, scores at will, can shoot, defends like few others. If the team can get him, I say go for it, but I don’t suggest it. I can be convinced, but I think the team shouldn’t bother. Besides, if we trade Ilgauskus, he’d probably end up getting a buyout and coming back, but what does that really do? It costs money immediately. I have always been annoyed by the whole trading and then buying the guy out so he can go back to the team he was trading for, it just seems weird.
The only trade I could really get behind, or even suggest that the team makes, is one I have only heard a few rumors about and seems to be the least possible. Al Jefferson. The guy is a beast down low. Can score just about as well as those other PF’s mentioned, and plays better defense. Rebounds better and is much, much younger. If you are trying to keep James, bring in a young star, not an old one, that he can feel good about teaming with for several years or the rest of his career. LeBron needs a Scottie Pippen. A dynamic teammate for the length of his career, this could be Mo Williams, but he still needs his Rodman. Al Jefferson. Very few character flaws, if any, can rebound really really well, is athletic, good shot blocker, could learn ALOT from Shaq, scores well, good post moves, defends. What is not to love about him? So the moral of the story. The Cavs are set for this year, but if they are making any move, it should be for Jefferson. He would be a great addition this year and beyond, could step in after Shaq leaves as the Center and team up for a helluva front court with Andy next year. He would make the team almost impossible to stop down low and make teams pay more attention to the low post and free up space for LeBron and Mo. Simply put, trade for Al Jefferson. Ilgauskus could be used, and he’d come back with a buy out most likely. Hickson could be part of the deal, Jawad Williams is an emerging scorer that could help the T-Wolves in the future and now. The trade works on ESPN’s trade machine, and it make sense cap wise. If a deal with the T-Wolves isn’t what the Cavs have in mind, I suggest not trading at all. This team is built for the post season, they have beaten all comers thus far this year, well… any one other then the Bobcats, but the easily handled the Lakers in the season series, and have beaten the Heat, the Magic and Boston. This is the year, and this is the roster to do it.