Thursday, February 21, 2008
I know what you're thinking, I'm a homophobe based on the title of this article. I'm not really. Hell, after today's whirlwind of NBA front office action, I feel like dancing all night at The Plugged Nickel. And I don't dance. I am that excited. Oh, by the way, I'm doing the bulk of this piece on Thursday night while Josh is watching Lost and after realizing that if I tried to do this tomorrow at work, it would take me 3 hours and the boss-bitch would grow very suspicious of my constant typing. Anywho, let's break this down and let me explain to you that, yes, Danny Ferry is not an aborted fetus.
In case you are ignorant, the Cavaliers obtained Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak (which I succesfully predicted yesterday!!!), Delonte West, and a 2nd round pick. They gave up Larry Hughes, Bizarro Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall (I have his cell phone number), Ira Newble, Ced Simmons, and Shannon Brown. I like to refer to the departing players from Cleveland as a "Shit Sandwich". Hell, Danny Ferry didn't even give up any draft picks!
Now let's take a deeper look into what they got in return for the Shit Sandwich:
Ben Wallace: Big Ben is obviously the largest name in this deal but ask any Bulls fan about him and you will likely get a punch in the jaw. We all know that he's overpaid and sucks offensively. That isn't breaking news. And to be honest, for me at least, he is the least impactful of the four that the Cavaliers acquired. The problem he had when he went to Chicago, in my opinion, is that he was expected to be a leader and he really isn't one. He is at his best when he can focus on just playing basketball. I also think that he suffered from an A-Rod complex that no matter what he did, fans would see his earnings before the production. Now that isn't to diminish from his weak play this season, but I don't think that you can ignore that the expectations thrust upon him were never reachable. Now that he's playing with Our King, he can just run all over the place and play with reckless abandon again. If you don't think that he won't play more rejuvenated basketball, you're crazy. Big Ben is in a perfect situation now where he will only play about 24-28 minutes a night and can just dive all over the place and block shots again (something that Drew Gooden was incapable of). And that is all that the Cavs want. He won't have ANY plays run for him. All they will want is for him to hit the glass, make his tip-in's, and be a pest for Rasheed, Garnett, and Dwight Howard. That is it. And those are the roles that made him as successful as he was in Detroit. I expect a refocus for Big Ben and a return to his defensive dominance. As far as his free throw shooting goes, if your team can't deal with a few misses, you aren't really a contender anyway.
Joe Smith: Smith has been a very underrated player over the past decade. He doesn't do anything great, but he doesn't do anything poorly. You could argue that he was the most consistent player on the Bulls this season. You could rely on him to make mid-range jumpers, grab boards, and play tough in the paint. Which is exactly what he's going to do for the rest of the season. He'll get about 20 minutes a game once Anderson Varejao gets back, and he's been around long enough to know what his role is expected to be. Joe is a massive upgrade over the bloated corpse of D-Marsh.
Delonte West: West isn't really a PG because he isn't the best ball handler. But in the Cavs system, they don't need a "pure" point like Chris Paul. Hell, LeBron dribbles up the court most of the time anyway. West's job will be, I believe, to come off the bench as the 3rd guard. He will be relied on to play tough defense on opposing point guards. But in reality, he's here for his tough demeanor and his offensive game. He's a really scrappy player who can dribble drive and stick the three. Really a perfect fit for this offense and the kind of player that we all want Boobie Gibson to grow into. And he immediately fills the void left by Larry for most tattoos on the team.
Wally Szczerbiak: This one made me smile the most. I LOVE Wally. Like I said yesterday, he was the best college basketball that I've ever seen (and I've seen quite a few). The fact that he went to my alma mater and now is kind of coming home to play for my NBA team, I'm ecstatic. When Wally is healthy, which he has been for most of the season, he's one of the best shooters in the league. He still hits 43% of his 3's while playing on a shitty team that had no one that commanded double teams. With Our King, Wally can hang near the perimeter and wait for opposing defenses to pick their poison: do you let LeBron posterize you or do you want Wally and Boobie and Damon Jones and Delonte bury you from outside??? It really is the perfect storm. Some people will argue that Wally is a pouter and black hole on offense that shoots every time he touches it. Well, you can't look at his stay in Seattle as a fair comparison. That team sucked and he HAD to shoot a lot. He doesn't have to here. Wally is smart enough to realize that his career is closer to the end than the beginning and he finally has a chance to win a title. He had no problems deferring to KG in Minnesota, I don't see it being an issue here either.
And as far as our departed brethren go...good fucking riddance. I've made it no secret that Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes were two of my most hated athletes in the world today. Drew Gooden has the lowest basketball IQ of anyone that I've ever seen, he had to lead the league in giving up "and 1" fouls, and he thought that the offense should run through him. And then there is Larry...who was actually playing quite well recently. I kind of thought that he was turning the corner, but fuck it, it was time to get rid of him. He never lived up to his 13 mill/year contract...he didn't even earn a 6 mill/year contract. So long assholes. And when you think about it, Larry was going to be owed 26 million over the next two years. The Cavs are now going to pay Big Ben 29 mill over the same period. It's not that bad of a trade actually.
I was hoping they wouldn't have traded Ira Newble. With Wally and Ira on the team (2 great RedHawks), there would be no stopping this team. But I'm sure that David Stern forced them to split them up to make it fair to the rest of the league.
Who can boast a front line to rival Our King, Joe Smith, Big Ben, Varejao, and Big Z? No one! Not one team will be able to own the glass on us. Not one team has the kind of depth to overmatch those big fellas. The frontline of Boobie (who will need to step up but I know that he is fully capable of doing so, we saw that during All-Star Weekend), Wally, Delonte, Damon Jones, and Sasha isn't great...but they can all shoot. And that is what we need. That is what Our King has always needed: shooters. Well, they are here now. The big, physical defense is here now. The headcases are gone. We made the statement today that the time is now. Now it is time to prove it on the floor. Mike Brown now has the pieces and now it's time for him to show that his system (derived from Gregg Popovich) can win a title outside of San Antonio.
Now let's get into the best part of this which not many are talking about. The problem that the Cavs have had in making deals before today is that they didn't have any expiring deals that were attractive to potential partners. Not anymore. With the addition of Wally, the Cavs will be big players next year at this time as well. If you add Eric Snow's awful deal, Damon Jones, and Wally's expiring deals...the Cavs have over 27 MILLION to play with in cap relief next year. Hell, there is already talk that they will be pursuing Michael Redd with that money! But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves here, we are trying to win now...not next year.
Unbelievable. What a day. I can't believe that the Cavaliers have put themselves in a position to win a championship and it only cost them a Shit Sandwich. Oh yeah, ESPN's Chris Sheridan is reporting that Our King is VERY pleased with these deals. If he's happy, I'm happy. Now let's just get healthy, find the right rotations, and work on the chemistry and we'll see you all back in the Finals. I didn't think that any team in the East could beat the Cavaliers before this trade and my opinion and bias is only reaffirmed now.
I'm calling it now...come June, the Cavaliers will beat the Lakers in 6 games in one of the most watched NBA Finals in league history and once again, the NBA will be back.
I guess I'm just happy that Danny Ferry showed up to work yesterday.