Friday, February 22, 2008

Local and National Trade Links

Cavs Deal All About the Playoffs - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ferry saw Boston adding big man Kevin Garnett. He watched Orlando's Dwight Howard grow into a premier center. He saw the Cavs defense slipping, the toughness fading. Coach Mike Brown wanted another inside defender who'd "shut down the lane."

Welcome, Wallace from Chicago, the 6-9, two-time NBA defensive player of the year. Miserable foul shooter (41 percent)? Yes. A waste on offense (5.1 points, 37 percent shooting)? Yes. But even at 33 and having lost some hops in his legs and a step of his quickness, Ben Wallace blocks shots, rebounds and often just scares the layups out of players driving to the basket.

Is Wallace overpaid? No doubt. But so was Hughes as both players have three years and more than $40 million left on their contracts.

It has galled Brown that his team ranks a dismal 22nd in defensive field goal percentage. He believes Wallace will immediately improve that. The Cavs are No. 3 in rebounding, and Wallace should help maintain that lofty spot.

Team Looks Different, But Will Gamble Work? - Patrick McManamon, Akron Beacon-Journal

The main gamble says that Ben Wallace can return to being the kind of player he was in Detroit two years ago and can show that he's not — as many have said and written — declining at the age of 33.

The gamble also says that Wally Szczerbiak can be the shooter the Cavs need, that Szczerbiak's 3-point abilities will mesh well with James' passing.

Statistics can be misleading, but the best thing about this remaking of the Cavs lies in the 3-point percentage for Szczerbiak,which has improved every one of the last five years — from 37.3 percent to 39.3 to 40.6 to 41.5 to 42.8 this season.

That is good news for the Cavs, because a spot-up shooter like Szczerbiak should fit better in the Cavs' offense than Hughes because of James' ability to drive and pass to the open man.

Szczerbiak arrives with Delonte West, a point guard. That in itself might please fans who have cried for Ferry to acquire a point guard. He did, and this one can play defense — an added bonus.

Bulls Ready to Start Over After Trading Wallace - Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune

The feeling among several league executives is new Seattle general manager Sam Presti, who got his current job after working for the Spurs under current Cavs general manager Danny Ferry, is paying off debts by trying to help the Spurs and Cavs.

For the Cavs, the trade could elevate them to challenge the Pistons and Magic, whom they have trailed all season. In Szczerbiak and West they get shooters who can spread the floor to play with James. Smith also has been solid and a good midrange threat for the Bulls. West can play some point guard, which is good for the Cavs because they also had wanted Chris Duhon. (The numbers just didn't fit for him to be included.)

Though Wallace's skills have declined and his explosion has diminished, he could work better playing with a big center like the Cavs' Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Wallace is better off the ball and chasing out on rebounds and could exert more defensive presence playing power forward.

Trade Adds Up For Cavs - Chris Broussard,

Don't get me wrong. I think Big Ben will be a factor. First, going to a legit EC contender will rejuvenate him. I also think his presence will give the Cavs even more of an edge over Detroit than they already enjoyed, having handled the Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals last year and almost pulling off the upset in 2006.

Despite their problems with Cleveland the past two years, the Pistons have always thought the Cavs were soft. Obviously, that has changed, and I actually think Ben will have a little mojo over his former club. Seeing him in a Cavs uni next to LeBron won't be a good feeling for the Pistons. (The Cavs and Pistons meet three more times this season.)

Now, Cleveland has a very tough four-man rotation at the 4 and 5 spots with Ben, Smith, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao.

Trade Grades - John Hollinger,

For Cleveland: Say this for Danny Ferry -- when he swings, he swings for the fences. He hasn't been able to get a deal done for the past two years in part because he's been going for big moves like this, which are harder to pull off. But when it works ... man, does it work.

This one works, big time. Answer me this: Would you rather have Larry Hughes (12.0 PER) or Wally Szczerbiak (16.0)? Shannon Brown (8.5) or Delonte West (10.1)? Donyell Marshall (8.5) or Ben Wallace (12.1)? Drew Gooden (12.8) or Joe Smith (17.4)?

The last one is the only comparison where you'd even hesitate, because Gooden has been better the previous several years. But Smith crushes Gooden on PER this season, and isn't prone to mental gaffes the way Gooden is.

Now consider how this all fits into the larger puzzle. LeBron James now has teammates who can actually shoot! No, seriously: Wally World is at 42.8 percent on 3s this year and 40.7 percent for his career; West is 37.0 percent for his career; and Smith is reliable from 17 feet who can space the floor. All three will help the Cavs space the floor and reduce the number of five-on-one defenses LeBron has to face.

That leaves Wallace, but there's even some upside here. Not for shooting, of course, but for all the other stuff he brings. I have had at least one scout tell me his poor results this year have been partly because he just wasn't playing hard; one wonders if the relocation will improve his spirits. And unlike Phoenix with Shaq, the Cavs didn't give up an All-Star in order to find out the answer to this question -- they just need Big Ben to play with some energy for 20 minutes off the bench as the fourth big man.

All told, this trade is a huge coup for Cleveland. They had to take on more salary (and a bigger luxury tax burden) to do it, so credit Cavs owner Dan Gilbert for busting out his checkbook. But they've been trying for two years to trade Gooden and Hughes; the fact they got something so worthwhile from the exchange is amazing. Grade: A-

Ferry Takes Giant Step in Keeping Lebron Happy -- and in Cleveland - Mike Freeman, CBS Sportsline

The explosive, course-changing trade Ferry made Thursday was simply brilliant. Not solely because the Cavaliers can now legitimately compete with Boston and again swap elbows with Detroit, but because the trade Ferry made might -- just might -- do something even more significant. It might keep LeBron James in a Cavaliers uniform for many years to come.
Finally. Ferry got off his frightened, paralyzed bottom and did something to make the Cavaliers much better. Took you long enough, Danny. As Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann might say: Ferry makes trades like old people ----.

Not any more. Ferry is in the running for GM of the Year with this deal.

They basically gave up some dead wood, scrubs and James sycophants for mainly Ben "Super-Fro" Wallace and Wally Szczerbiak. The real heart of this deal is, of course, Wallace. He's still a big star and impact talent despite what happened in Chicago. He gives Cleveland something they desperately need -- guts and stones.

With that kind of power, combined with the electric James (who has six triple-doubles this year), and the shooting of Szczerbiak, one of the more underrated long-range scorers in basketball, the Cavaliers can hang with the best of the conference.

Yahoo Sports Trade Analysis - Johnny Ludden, Yahoo Sports

Just when it looked like the deadline would pass without the Cavs making a move, GM Danny Ferry put together this season’s largest deal. He shipped out half his roster to get LeBron James a new supporting cast. An upgrade? For the short-term, at least. Which is all James has signed on for. This smacks of a win-now edict because owner Dan Gilbert is shouldering a hefty financial commitment. Regardless, the Cavs won’t need Wallace to give them much more than a sturdy 20-to-25 minutes a night, and the combination of he and Smith should more than make up for the loss of Gooden. Hughes was only a drain on the Cavs’ cap while Szczerbiak and West should help space the floor for James with their shooting. Brown, once a promising prospect, had already worn out his welcome. Szczerbiak will eventually grate on his teammates. He almost always does. And this deal doesn’t completely relieve Ferry’s frustration in not landing Andre Miller, Jason Kidd or Mike Bibby. Coach Mike Brown also doesn’t have an easy job ahead of him in trying to work in so many new players with only two months left in the season. But this much is true: If James wanted help, he just got it. Grade: B.

Cavs Reinvent Themselves - Ian Thomsen -

"Wallace and Ilgauskas don't appear to complement each other,'' a rival general manager said. "They'll have to play together at times, but Ben can't go in the post because he can't score down there. On the other hand, they're going to be [great] defensively up front.''
But another executive pointed out that Wallace could benefit from playing alongside the length and offensive skill of Ilgauskas. The Cavaliers ranked only 22nd in field-goal defense (yielding 46 percent) before the trade, and the arrival of Wallace could help enforce a new commitment to the defensive end.

The questions of chemistry on the Cavaliers' front line might be offset by the perimeter shooting that will be provided by Szczerbiak and West, who will also help address Cleveland's need at point guard. If the two former Sonics play a prominent role in the offense, it will only help space the floor for LeBron James, who is having an MVP year.

The Cavaliers were the protagonist in this trade, as they increased their long-term financial commitments while declaring their intention to overtake Boston and Detroit in the Eastern Conference playoffs. It's hard to envision how all of the new pieces will fit together, but that's where the versatility of LeBron comes in: His ability to elevate the play of his teammates will be put to good use in making sense of the Cavaliers' roster.

Sizing Up the East - Jack McCallum,

They could be there again: Cavaliers

Well, the waters certainly got muddied by Thursday's 11-player, three-team, you-take-some-of-my-refuse-and-we'll-take-some-of-yours deal. The Cavs received Wally Szczerbiak and Ben Wallace and parted with Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes. Szczerbiak and Wallace are capable of some big-time pouting, but I have to assume that if they want a ticket to the Finals, they had better understand that this is LeBron James' show.

You want to bet against LeBron? In this conference? During a season in which, for the first time, he is being mentioned along with Kobe Bryant as The Best Player in the Game? I don't. Like the Pistons, the Cavs have some tough road swings out of the way, and if James stays healthy there's no reason to believe he won't do the same thing in the conference finals that he did last year. (Which was to beat the Pistons almost by himself.)

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