As we continue to approach NBA Trade Season, the rumors involving the Cavaliers continue to heat up as well. It’s been well documented that the Cavaliers covet Antawn Jamison and they would love nothing more than to add his services to this team. With the recent implosion of the Wizards franchise, it started to sound more and more like a Jamison trade would be possible.
A new dark horse candidate has entered the ring, though, and it’s an exciting one. Now, you can take this as a for-what-it’s-worth bit of info, but according to ESPN’s Chris Sheridan in an ESPN.com chat yesterday, the most likely player on the Cavaliers to be traded is not Ilgauskas, but Daniel Gibson, and he thinks the Cavs can use Gibson to get David West from the New Orleans Hornets.
When asked about the Cavs trade possibilities, Sheridan first responded with:
“I’d say the likeliest guy on the Cavs’ roster to be moved is Daniel Gibson, and if they go for a home run with a big money guy I expect them to use Wally Szczerbiak and/or Lorenzen Wright as a piece of the puzzle through sign-and-trade means. (like the Mavs did with Keith Van Horn a couple years back).”
He is later asked again about the Cavaliers trade options, and Sheridan then goes into a little bit more detail, saying:
“Like I said earlier, if [the Cavs] can upgrade Boobie and use Wally/Lorenzen to make the money work, I think they’ll do something. I’d say a Gibson trade is 5 times more likely than a Z trade. Also, I know Jamario Moon is out 3 weeks, but it still sort of feels like I’m watching a showcase every time I see Jawad Williams on the floor. If they combo Jawad, Gibson and Wally, they could get a nice piece back. If they added Hickson to that threesome, I’d bet they could get David West.”
This is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone suggest a realistic chance the Cavs could get David West. Of course, this instantly makes one wonder which is the better deal for the Cavaliers to make.
There are a couple different ways of looking at this scenario. As always, of course, this decision would be a lot easier on Danny Ferry if LeBron would just let him know what his plans for next year are, but that’s not going to happen, so we have to look at both possibilities.
Antawn Jamison is older, makes more money, and has a longer guaranteed contract than West. All of these things would make you assume David West is the better way to go. However, there’s a catch, and the catch is that at age 33, Antawn Jamison is still a better basketball player than David West at age 29. Jamison is putting up a gaudy 22.0 ppg and 8.3 rpg this season with a 20.08 efficiency rating. David West is at 17.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg with a 17.71 efficiency rating. Jamison’s shooting numbers are better pretty much across the board. Neither guy is going to be making the All-Defensive team any time soon, and I would argue that their defense is pretty comparable, although West is a slightly more physical defender than Jamison.
So am I saying the Cavaliers should focus on getting Jamison instead of West then? No, not necessarily. The fact that in order to get West, according to Chris Sheridan, the Cavaliers could keep Zydrunas Ilgauskas and only give up Daniel Gibson (who doesn’t play anymore), JJ Hickson (who would lose all his minutes to West anyway), and either Wally Szczerbiak or Lorenzen Wright (not even on the roster right now) makes that deal an intriguing one to say the least. Furthermore, with David West the Cavaliers would have another young-ish All-Star who they could build around LeBron for the future. Plus, even if LeBron were to leave, if the Cavaliers were to trade for West now they could still have a core of Mo Williams, Delonte West, Jamario Moon, David West, and Anderson Varejao. Not a championship team like they have now, but it is at least something you can work with and build around.
If you compare the two players’ contracts, you’ll see that adding West would give the Cavaliers more financial flexibility to work with as well. Jamison’s contract is setup as follows:
- 2009-10: $11,641,085
- 2010-11: $13,358,905
- 2011-12: $15,076,715
Whereas with David West you’re looking at the following:
- 2009-10: $9,075,000
- 2010-11: $8,287,500
- 2011-12: $7,525,000 (Early Termination Option)
So there’s little doubt that adding David West gives the Cavaliers more options and flexibility (two keystones of the Danny Ferry kind of acquisition) going forward to the future.
I truly think this is a very difficult decision. I can’t shake the feeling I have that Jamison is not only a slightly better player right now than West, but is also the perfect type of stretch forward the Cavaliers need to make them the unquestioned team to beat in the East. If this really is an “all in” season for the Cavaliers, then maybe going after Jamison really is the best route for them.
On the other hand, as a front office executive, I would expect Danny Ferry to take emotion out of this and to do what is truly in the best interest of this franchise. That being the case, I would think he would first see if he can’t get Washington to take a similar Gibson/Hickson/Szczerbiak deal for Jamison and if/when they reject that idea, go try to acquire David West. Not giving up Ilgauskas is the key that allows the Cavaliers to remain the team to beat. After a rough start, Big Z has quietly resurrected his season and turned into an essential bench player for this team. Getting West allows the Cavaliers to keep Big Z as well as giving them the most flexibility for the future regardless of whether LeBron is still in Cleveland or not. So with that mind, I toss my meaningless vote in for David West.