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Trade Deadline Update #2: Some Random Links on Cleveland and Amar’e

Nothing is official yet (at least, as of early this morning) but it’s looking more and more like the Phoenix Suns will trade Amar’e Stoudemire to the Cleveland Cavaliers for . . . whatever it is that they’re getting.

(We’re assuming that is Zydrunas Ilgauskas, J.J. Hickson and possibly a first round draft pick.)

That would be quite a colossal move by Danny Ferry . . . one that comes with both big-time risks and big-time rewards.  It’s the kind of game-changing, over-the-top move that Cleveland is not used to seeing from their GMs when their teams are on the brink of a championship.

But again, since there isn’t anything definite to report . . . and we’re all a little exasperated with the good-fit / bad-fit speculation . . . here’s a rundown of some of the interesting things we found when we tore up Google early this morning.

 

#1.)  ESPN’s Chris Broussard says that Phoenix is still holding out hope that the Philadelphia 76ers will offer them a package including Andre Iguodala for Amar’e . . . but Philly isn’t too sure they want to trade their best player for Amar’e.

That’s definitely understandable.  A lot of Cavaliers fans aren’t too thrilled about trading our least important rotation player, J.J. Hickson, for Amar’e.

Sources also tell Broussard that while Amar’e is cool with LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, he’d prefer to play in Miami where he lives in the offseason . . . but since Phoenix isn’t interested in Michael Beasley, the Heat have nothing to build a deal around, at least without another team being involved.

Naturally, it’s hard to characterize and contextualize what “sources” say . . . and there’s a good chance that they’re not accurate anyway . . . but I’d question the mind-set of any player that would turn down the chance to join the Cavaliers right now, in February of 2010.  I mean, seriously.  [Full Story]

 

#2.)  ESPN’s Chad Ford believes there’s a chance the Cavs could seal the Amar’e deal . . . and then proceed to trade for all the other players they’ve been linked to.  (???)He writes:

“Even if the Cavs get Stoudemire, they might attempt to do a secondary trade to obtain [Antawn] Jamison or [Troy] Murphy to fill the need for a 4 who could stretch the floor with his shooting.

“Given that the Cavs have concerns about how well Stoudemire and Shaquille O’Neal would fit together, the team would consider moving Shaq if it acquired Amar’e.  For instance, the Cavs could swap O’Neal and their first-round pick to Washington for Jamison and Mike Miller.  They could send the same package to Indiana in a deal for Murphy and Mike Dunleavy.”

Oh!  And we could also flip Daniel Gibson and Delonte West to Golden State for Corey Maggette!!!

This sort of reminds me of 2004, when I’d go into the forums . . . and some people were wondering why then-GM Jim Paxson wouldn’t trade Lucious Harris, Eric Snow and Ira Newble to Philadelphia to get Allen Iverson.  After all, it did work out in the Trade Machine.

It’s going to take almost the rest of the regular season to integrate Stoudemire into the team . . . because he isn’t just going to be used in Hickson’s so-called “Cedric Ceballos” role.  We wouldn’t be utilizing his talent in that role, and there’s probably no way he’d accept it anyway.  So the offense will need to be revamped.

Also, whether it’s solely the product of playing in Phoenix . . . or not . . . Stoudemire isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut.  It’s going to be imperative for him to fit seamlessly into our defense come playoff time.  No matter how good he is on the offensive end, the Cavs title hopes rest on their defense.

It’s not a knock on Amar’e.  Any time you add an impact player as significant as he is, it’s going to take a long time to recalibrate.  High-functioning teams may be able to sneak a role player into the rotation without too much turbulence . . . but if you’re adding an All-Star, you’re at the drawing board.

My point:  If the trade goes through, Mike Brown, LeBron James, Amar’e and the rest of the Cavs are going to have plenty on their plates.  The last thing they need is more new spare parts.

One starter (and at least 30 days of an important man off your bench) for another, better starter is enough to absorb.  There’s no need to completely overhaul a lineup that is 43-11, has the best record in the NBA, and is still on a 13-game winning streak.

Not every trade that looks good on paper . . . or works in the Trade Machine . . . is something that will work in real life.  [Full Story]
#3.)  The ”Arizona Republic” reports that the Suns have recently taken another stab at trying to keep Amar’e in Phoenix.  Supposedly, they’re still taking his temperature on a possible extension.  The paper reports:

“The Suns and the Stoudemire camps exchanged contract extension proposals Friday in Dallas with the Suns offering an additional two years beyond Stoudemire’s $17.7 million player option for the 2010-11 season.”

Virtually everyone on the Internet (and there’s a lot of people on the Internet) expects Phoenix to trade Stoudemire to someone . . . so it’d be surprising if they suddenly backed down and decided to take their chances at being able to re-sign him.

Also, “Plain Dealer” beat-writer Brian Windhorst has said that Amar’e wants a max contract . . . and the Suns are reluctant to give him one considering the serious injuries he’s dealt with over the years.

For what it’s worth, the ”Arizona Republic” also says Danny Green may be included in the deal.  [Full Story]
#4.)  In his latest sensationalist column, Yahoo Sports! writer Adrian Wojnarowski suggests that even a trade for Amar’e may not be enough to keep LeBron James in Cleveland.  He says:

“James has given the Cavaliers no promise that trading for . . . and retaining . . . Stoudemire would assure that he re-signs this summer.  Acquiring Stoudemire could help, but James and his inner circle continue to privately insist they’ll explore free agency in July before making a final decision.”

On one hand, this is nothing new:  LeBron isn’t going to make a final decision until this summer.  He’s consistently said that for years.  He’s going to take a look at all his underwhelming options before re-upping with the wine and gold, who have had contending teams for years now, and have never shied away from doing whatever it takes to improve the team (for both now and the future).

On the other hand, this is ridiculous.  Can we stop insisting that there’s some hidden secret to keeping LeBron in Cleveland that the Cavs are too inept to discover or execute?  He wants to win championships.  That championships.  He will look for the best opportunity he has to do that, now and in the future.

Right now, it’s Cleveland . . . and a title this year would be a huge statement.

If the Cavs don’t make a trade, LeBron isn’t going to see it as a sign that the Cavaliers aren’t doing enough for him.  They’re doing everything for him, trade or not, and he is well aware of that.  [Full Story]
#5.)  And forget about Stoudemire, CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel would like to see LeBron go somewhere to pair up with Dwyane Wade.  Because he deserves it.  Here’s his argument:

“The two of them could play again.  Permanently.  And I don’t mean the 2012 Summer Olympics, though in 2012 they are sure to reprise their roles of Batman and Robin . . . or Batman and Batman . . . during the United States’ gold-medal run of 2008.  I’m talking about the 2010-11 season, when one or both of them could be playing for a new team.  For years, as the potential disaster of losing LeBron has loomed for the Cavaliers, I’ve fought for Cleveland, and for Ohio.  We can’t lose LeBron.  He’s ours.  That’s been my position.

“Now, my position is this:  I want to see LeBron play with a great teammate (and sorry, Mo Williams, but neither you nor half-a-Shaq count).  I want to see that because I want LeBron to fulfill his destiny as the greatest player in NBA history, and he can only do that with championship rings, and he can only do that with better talent around him.  Maybe he and Wade can go somewhere together, swallow some pride and save their next team some money and play together knowing damn well that a series of NBA rings would lead to more millions in endorsements and other opportunities than whatever they’d lose in salary.”

And then . . . LeBron could finally be playing the most exciting basketball of his career, be a legitimate title contender, a shoe-in for the MVP award, have his team sitting with the NBA’s best record at the All-Star Break, and also have led his team to 13 straight victories . . . with some mesmerizing clutch performances, as a creator and as a finisher.

What a dream.  [Full Story]

 

Finally, if you haven’t listened to Brian Windhorst’s 20-minute interview on WKNR from yesterday, you should.  It’s packed with perspective on what kinds of risks and rewards you can expect if the Cavs do end up making a deal for Amare.  Here’s the link to the podcast.

The Offseason Report, Part Three: Christian Eyenga. Who?

The Cleveland Cavaliers had the 30th pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and they did NOT pick up an “impact player” that will help them immediately.  Shocking, I know.
If you know anything about the NBA Draft, you know that you can’t get one of those players with the 30th pick.  Actually, scratch that.  You can’t get one that is considered an “impact player” on Draft Day.  You can gamble on ones that have the potential to become one.

And that’s what the Cavaliers did.

They selected a 20-year-old kid named Christian Eyenga, who played for a team called DKV Joventut in Spain last year.  Technically, he was on the second team, which is like its JV squad.

This move was slammed by some fans, mostly because at least two “big names” . . . DeJuan Blair and Sam Young . . . had fallen down to the 30th pick and were available.

(“Big names” is in quotes, by the way, because no one had heard of them before the run-up to the draft, and won’t likely hear of them again until at least a year or two down the road.  If even then.)
This frustration is understandable, because as Cleveland fans we’re not used to having legitimate championship-contending teams.  We’re used to having the “trade-up,” or at least “pick the best player available no matter what” mentality.

Also, the NBA Draft has sort of become a bigger deal than it should be.  The NFL Draft can be “an event” because any player taken in all seven rounds could be an “impact player”.  That’s because NFL teams carry 53-player rosters and can retain additional players on their practice squads.

In the NBA, it’s rare that any player outside the Top 8 . . . or the Top 14, which are the lottery picks . . . makes any real noise in their first season.

So fans can’t help getting a little caught up in it, and become disappointed with a no-name pick like Christian Eyenga.

What IS surprising is that the national media was equally critical of the pick.  ESPN’s Chad Ford gave the Cavs draft a “B-” grade because, again, we didn’t take one of the “big names.”  And his grade would have even been lower if it wasn’t for our second pick.
Ford said:  ”I have to say I’m a little surprised the Cavs didn’t go for a player like Sam Young or DeJuan Blair who could have helped them right away.  I thought the future was now in Cleveland.”

It is.

And here’s how I think this pick IS consistent with that ideology (in a sweet list format):
1.)  First round draft picks are guaranteed contracts.  The Cavs may not have seen someone worth that money, or that salary cap space, at #30.  By picking someone who plays overseas, they allow them to develop, while retaining their rights, and not having to pay them until they come to the NBA.

2.)  Even if the Cavs would be cool with paying someone at #30, that player would also be guaranteed a roster spot.  That’s a big deal.  Since the Cavs are a “future is now” team, they want to fill their roster with players that have at least one year of NBA experience.

3.)  The Cavs could have traded up to get an “impact player,” but their only expendable, tradable assets were expiring contracts (which would help allow another team to clear up some future salary cap space.)  Of course, those went out the window in the Shaq trade.

4.)  They also couldn’t bag on the pick and trade it to another team for a player or cash.  That’s because you can’t trade first round picks in consecutive years . . . so it would hurt our flexibility if we needed to trade next year’s first round pick later this season.  We may need to pick up another piece, and again, we don’t have many other assets.

So it came down to this:
Draft one of the “big names” . . . that we aren’t all that sold on . . . and be stuck with working around them all year, or draft a young foreign player with a high ceiling and stash him in Europe for a few years to grow playing competitive basketball.

By the way, I’m not arguing that Christian was the best pick they could have made.  I know absolutely nothing about him.  But in my opinion the methodology was sound.  Only time will tell if they picked the right “project player,” and naturally, I hope they did.

In the Second Round, at #46, the Cavs picked Daniel Green, a Small Forward out of North Carolina.  The Cavs did sign him to a contract, so he’ll have a spot at the end of the bench in Cleveland this year.  He has a full, four years of college under his belt, so he should be ready to transition into the NBA.
Finally, the Cavs picked up the rights to Emir Preldzic, who went at #57.  He will be playing and developing in Europe, so we also won’t see him this year.

 

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