Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cleveland, Chicago and Seattle in three-team trade: Does this actually make the Cavs better?

Just an hour or so ago, the Cavaliers, Bulls and SuperSonics pulled one of the biggest trades in NBA history, swapping 11 players.
Cleveland gets: C Ben Wallace, SF/SG Wally Szczerbiak, F Joe Smith and G Delonte West
Chicago gets: PF Drew Gooden, G Larry Hughes
Seattle gets: F Donyell Marshall, G Ira Newble, future first-round pick

While a lot of talk is going around about how much this can improve the Cavs' roster, I remain suspicious whether the new version of the Cavaliers will indeed be better than the roster that has struggled to a 30-24 record.
Big Ben is a fabulous defensive player, but is a liability on offense... at least Drew Gooden could score a little. Joe Smith might be able to fill this scoring void a little, but not as much as Gooden. He won't even play for Cleveland as much as Gooden did.
Losing Larry Hughes isn't a problem when they are getting Szczerbiak, but I think Chicago benefited just as much as the Cavs by saving money in trading Big Ben's big contract, and I agree with Ric Bucher, senior writer for ESPN the Magazine- the Bulls needed to do something to shake up the roster and re-awaken the franchise, which should be having a great year right now. It will be interesting to see where Hughes fits in a rotation of guards that includes Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon and an improving Thabo Sefolasha.
Seattle? They are simply clearing cap space to make a run at a big-time player in the summer to be another cornerstone to their massive rebuilding project.

Meanwhile, Seattle got rid of an older player on the roster in Kurt Thomas, shipping him and his large contract to San Antonio for C Francisco Elson, another guard and cash. This trade really helps both clubs. The Spurs are assisted because Thomas can be a solid player off the bench who can come in for C Fabricio Oberto, or spell Tim Duncan. Thomas could also play alongside Duncan, giving the Spurs a pretty tough front line, a feature that the Spurs will need in needing to play post defense against the bigger, new-look teams of the Suns and Lakers (O'Neal and Gasol).

Then, there's the trade that went down this morning: New Orleans gave up backup guard Bobby Jackson, another player and a draft pick to Houston for guards Mike James and Bonzi Wells, the Rockets' top two players off the bench this season. The Hornets just got deeper, with James and Wells combined with Jannero Pargo gives N.O. a lot of perimeter threats off the bench to spell Chris Paul and avoid losing a step when Peja Stojakovic or Morris Peterson comes out of the game.

All of these trades have left one Western Conference contender who have not made any recent personnel changes in an attempt to improve amongst an ultra-competitive and exciting conference race: the Golden State Warriors, who you could argue have made a move with their signing of postman Chris Webber a couple of weeks ago.

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