Wow. What a night to be away from the computer. In hindsight, it may have been for the better, as it allowed for some digestion of everything that went on with the Cavaliers (and Browns!!) in the last 24 hours.
Earlier this week, I mentioned all of the D-named players on our roster without consideration that a few of them would not be on the team come today. Well, it now appears that we have a few new “W’s” on our team with Wallace, Wally and West… but we just have to hope that it all translates into the only “W” that matters: Wins.
My fiancee was laughing at me last night as I fielded a bevy of text messages and phone calls asking me what I thought about the deal. I’m not sure when I turned into the resident source of valid opinions, but it is good to see that it matters to some! At first glance, I was skeptical. We’re taking on a TON of money (as Rock broke down last night), and are we getting what need in return?
After our crushing loss to the Pistons (without Larry Hughes, mind you) two seasons ago, many people said that the two things we needed were a defensive stopper down low and a three-point shooter. Remember, that’s what Donyell Marshall (and Damon Jones, to an extent) was supposed to provide. Now we have one of the premier defensive players in the league in Ben Wallace – arguably on a regression – as well as a deadly efficient shooter – albeit overpaid – in Wally Szczerbiak.
Add Delonte West to the mix and I really like what we have. Those that are comparing points scored of the players we traded to those that we received must remember that this 21-year old guard is only a year out of averaging 12 points, 4.5 assists and three boards per game.
I honestly feel that the wild card in this whole deal will be Joe Smith. I know that many were upset that Drew Gooden is no longer with the team, but Smith provides a higher basketball IQ, position flexibility, and actually more points per minute than Gooden.
And if I had to pick a second part of this deal that I like, it is the free throw shooting. This actually could be one of the most overlooked parts of this deal given our historic struggles over the past few seasons. Smith is one of the better free throw-shooting big men in the league, currently at an 81 percent clip. While West is shooting 67 percent this year, his career average is at 82 percent – as this past few months have been crowded with noise in Seattle. And you should all know (given his collegiate home) that Wally Szczerbiak is golden from the line with a career average of 86 percent. Couple this with Ilgauskas and LeBron, and it could pose some trouble for opposing teams. Show me a game that we lost due to the poor play at the foul line and I’ll show you a lineup of five guys that would be pretty tough to beat going forward.
Oh…and don’t underestimate that future second round pick. For a team known more for trading picks away, I’m stoked to see that we got one in return.
OK, enough about the Cavs…
Jamal Lewis, come on down! While the Cavaliers were scurrying to get a deal done, the Browns locked up their running back for three more seasons as Lewis has stated that he would like to finish his career in Cleveland. I think this deal is perfect given Lewis’ age (28) and play last season. It will take him into his early 30s while giving Cleveland a decent cushion to address other needs.
“I am thankful to the Browns for the opportunity they gave me last year to come out and prove that I was still one of the top running backs in the NFL,” said Lewis in a statement. “I feel the future is extremely bright for this team and I’m excited to be a part of it for another three years. I said all year long that I wanted to get a long-term deal done to stay in Cleveland and it looks like with this new contract I’ll be able to finish my career as a Brown.”
He’s saying the right things. Let’s just hope that he and our O-Line can keep it going. Derek Anderson? He could be next.
Sorry for being extra long today. Enjoy your Friday…