In Limbo: Cavaliers Trade Plans Still In Neutral…For Now

shaqjamisonBy all accounts, the Cleveland Cavaliers have begun to get serious about trading Zydrunas Ilgauskas. I don’t think there’s a single person in the Cavaliers organization, and precious few individuals in the fan community, who wants to see Ilgauskas play in another uniform. All things being equal, we all would love to see Big Z play his entire career for this franchise. Having said that, though, the reality of the situation is that this is a business, and Big Z’s status as an expiring contract has made him an NBA commodity.

This trade deadline could be the Cavaliers’ final chance to make the needed improvements to make a Championship run. Without getting too deep into this summer, I’ll just state the obvious that nobody knows what LeBron is going to do, and so this is the last year Cleveland is guaranteed to have the game’s best player on their roster. This is why it is imperative that the Cavaliers make their move and turn their commodities into Championship caliber assets.  

I’ve been extremely eager to see the Cavaliers not wait around this year, but to be proactive and to go out and make the first big move and force the other teams in the league to react. I’ve also made no secret of the fact that, much like he is for the Cavaliers’ front office, Antawn Jamison is the player that I covet and want to see on this team. Unfortunately, for me, I get the impression that I’m going to have to be a little more patient if this is going to happen.

In order for the Cavaliers to acquire Jamison, the Washington Wizards are going to have to decide what they are going to do about their future. Any such decision obviously hinges on what happens to Gilbert Arenas, so until the Wizards know where they are going with that situation, any trades for Jamison are going to have to wait.

I had thought that perhaps the quickest move for the Cavaliers would have been to try to get David West from the New Orleans Hornets. Bob Finnan mentioned over the weekend that an added bonus of getting West is that the Cavaliers would then be less dependent on getting Ilgauskas back via buyout because West’s game is more of a post game than Jamison’s is. Therefore, with Andy backing up Shaq at center, you’d still have some depth at PF with West, Hickson, Powe (eventually), and even LeBron when needed. However, according to Finnan’s article, that doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen:

“Hornets coach/GM Jeff Bower told New Orleans writers that he has no intention of breaking up their core to get under the luxury-tax threshold. Teams are also inquiring about point guard Chris Paul.

“The foundation of our plan has always been to maintain our core group of players and to look at ways that wouldn’t affect our overall basketball team on the court,” Bower said.”

Never say never, of course, but I don’t get the impression the Hornets are looking to blow up their team just yet. They already traded away Hilton Armstrong to free up some space and they are so close to the tax threshold now that trading a big money player isn’t needed.

Assuming that Troy Murphy and Jeff Foster (also mentioned in Finnan’s article. Hooray!) are merely failsafe options, that leaves Jamison as still the most likely target. The timing is going to be a little tricky, though.

According to Sam Smith (yes, I know….it’s Sam Smith, so take this with a gigantic grain of salt), the Wizards may not be so likely to trade Jamison if they can get out from under Arenas’ contract. He writes:

“Most GMs say the most active team trying to deal has been the Cavs in offering Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ expiring contract of $11.5 million in trying to get another scorer to give them a chance to make the Finals and hang onto James. The Cavs have long had eyes for Washington’s Antawn Jamison. The Arenas imbroglio has left many believing the Wizards will break up their team and trade their stars, Jamison and Caron Butler.

But there’s an interesting angle to this. Several teams with big time free agents have questioned the league about Washington’s ability to void Arenas’ contract. Because if the Wizards can void it, they suddenly become a player in 2010 free agency and another team that can steal a free agent by getting well under the salary cap. In that case, you figure they’d keep their two best players and not risk going all the way to the bottom.”

Again, this is the same Sam Smith who has in recent years proclaimed that LeBron to the Lakers was possible and even hinted that he was hearing a Larry Hughes return to Cleveland might happen. Obviously both of those scenarios are ridiculous and are just a couple examples of Smith’s recent rumor mongering. However, I must admit the logic on this Arenas story is sound. If the Wizards really can shed Gilbert’s contract, then why not hang on to Butler and Jamison and see if you can lure a big free agent in 2010 to go with them?

On the other hand, there’s some really question as to whether or not any of this is going to happen. The Wall Street Journal’s David Biderman wrote a brief paragraph on this today, saying:

“Gilbert Arenas and his former agent are discussing how to proceed if the Washington Wizards try to void the remaining $80 million on the suspended guard’s contract, people familiar with the matter say. Mr. Arenas, who pleaded guilty to a felony gun charge, split with Dan Fegan in 2006 and currently has no agent. Mr. Fegan says he doesn’t expect the Wizards to void the contract. The Wizards declined comment.”

Much like with Sam Smith, you obviously need to take Dan Fegan’s comments in stride as he obviously has an agenda here. The point of all of this, though, is that the Wizards truly have an enormous mess on their hands, and until they can figure out how they want to proceed, the Cavaliers’ trade options are going to be put on the sidelines. Brian Windhorst tweeted the following last night:

“To satisfy all trade Qs, before bed here’s your update: Cavs having lots of discussions but aren’t close to anything right now.”

So it sure sounds to me like we are not anywhere close to the point where any deals are going to be made.

There are a couple different ways to assess the value of trading now vs waiting. The benefits of trading now are that the Cavaliers would have more time to get used to playing with Jamison and Mike Brown would be able to play around with his rotations a little bit to find out the best units for Jamison. Furthermore, the sooner the Cavaliers make a trade, the sooner they can possibly get Ilgauskas back should he succeed in getting his buyout.

On the other hand, trading Ilgauskas now leaves the Cavaliers’ post game with a gaping hole beyond Shaq. With Jamison as a wing player and with Hickson’s lack of post presence, the Cavs would be filling one weakness but creating a new one until Leon Powe can return. If the Cavaliers are forced to wait until the trade deadline to make their move, then at least Leon Powe will (hopefully) be back and able to step up and fill that need as much as possible with his solid post game.

So while I am eager for the Cavaliers to make a move sooner rather than later, it feels to me like patience is going to have to be the name of the game. There are some benefits to having to wait, and I will have to look at those as the bright side. However, nothing is ever definite in the NBA, and I worry about the Wizards cooling on the idea of trading Jamison and leaving the Cavaliers stuck where they are. Not that this team isn’t great as it is, but when there’s a chance to make the kind of improvement that Jamison represents, it would be a bitter pill to swallow to have to settle for the likes of Troy Murphy and Jeff Foster.

  • JNeids

    I would take Jamison now and the potential 1-2 extra losses that might come with it during the adapting/lack of a post presence phase. Just give me Jamison already! The longer we wait, the more I just fear it isn’t going to happen…but that’s the Clevelander in me.

  • Lloyd Braun

    Thanks for the good read Andrew.

    Big Z really hasn’t spent that much time in the post this year. For all the reasons I would be sad to see him go, missing his post presence isn’t one of them. I love Big Z, but if it takes him to get Jamison I am fine with it. Jamison is way too big of an upgrade to pass up.

  • Tron

    If the Wizards do try and void Gilberts contract, that mess isn’t going to be cleared up for at least another year. Because they’ll fight that to the death. The Wiz definately aren’t going to be able to for sure say they aren’t going to have to pay Gilbert next year by Feb 18th, which makes me think they’ll be worried about being over the luxury next year with a superstar who isn’t playing still on their books, and they’re not going to want that.

  • Mike

    Just because a deal makes sense doesn’t mean that the GMs involved are clever enough to make it happen. These guys are optimists, and they know that heading into rebuilding mode can be the last thing they do before getting fired.

    While Jamison appears to be a good fit, I don’t think it’s a good idea to count on that Wizards front office to make a good decision.

  • Andrew

    Just to clarify my post remarks, I realize Z isn’t a true post player anymore, but he still has a similar effect on the team with his tip ins. His % of FG attempts being from inside and tip ins are both identical to his numbers there last season, so he’s still effective producing some easy baskets and 2nd chance points. That’s something the Cavaliers will lose in exchange for Jamison.

    But I am all about trading Z for Jamison. It’s a trade off worth making, IMO. I just wanted to point out that I do feel bad for Z and I wish there was a way to get Jamison without losing Z.

  • Charlie

    Tron speaks the truth. There’s no way a legal mess this size gets cleared up in a month. How that effects Jamison, as Andrew just wrote, we’ll have to wait and see.

  • Andrew

    I don’t think anyone is saying the Arenas situation will be solved. But there’s no question that a month from now the Wizards will have a better grasp of how they want to proceed than they do now.

  • Denny

    Needs more pity party.

  • mike

    keep an eye on delonte west too. his contract is not guaranteed after this year so he too is very tradeable, and then “buyout-able” to return to cleveland.


    I think its good idea to bring Jamison with out loosing Z.

    I wish to see CP3 and Carlos Boozer in Cavs this year.

  • Denny

    I like the cut of “CAVS FAN”‘s jib. I also dislike reality. LET’S GO!

  • Vengeful Pat

    I think there’s a better chance of seeing Len Bias dunking on fools in a Cavs uniform than seeing CP3 or Carlos Boozer in the Wine and Gold.

  • mike

    CAVS FAN – i wish i made $5 million/year and had a 10-incher.

  • Swig

    I’ve been extremely eager to see the Cavaliers … be proactive and to go out and make the first big move and force the other teams in the league to react.

    Never thought of it this way, being reactionary sucks. Ending up forced into a corner either we get mediocre talent in return, or even worse Ferry decides to stand pat. That would be a tragedy.

    Conspiracy theory. We’re waiting until after the Lakers game to pull the trigger so we have post size for a potentially critical matchup.

  • Demetri

    Am I the only one in the world who prefers Murphy?

  • boogeyman

    CP3 in a heartbeat heck give New Orleans Mo, Z, Hickson S&T with Wally for CP3 and West and lets get to the playoffs! Yes I know I’m dreaming. Anyways I have been beating the PF need drum for over a year especially on where people thought this team was the best ever assembled even last year when Stevie Wonder could see the Cavaliers had no inside game. They still don’t even with Shaq. If Ferry stands still and doesn’t make a serious trade to add a legitimate All-Star I still believe this team will come up short simply because it’s LeBron and a roster full of role players. It’s time to get rid of the Gibsons and Jacksons and move a guy like Hickson who needs to go to a team where he can play without it costing. THERE IS NO TOMORROW, THERE IS NO TOMORROW!

  • Jack

    If Gil’s contract gets voided you can add it to the list of already bizarre punishment comparisons available in pro sports.

    Arenas – brings guns, loses $90 mil
    Artest – punches fan, void unsuccessful
    Javaris – loaded gun, nada
    Stallworth – vehic manslaughter while drunk/high, 30 days, settlement
    Plax – shoots self, 3 years?
    Vick – kills dogs 1.5 years in prison?


  • Jack

    That being said, it won’t happen.

    And I believe the Cavs are trying to be proactive. I just think everyone who needs $$$ is waiting to see what comes available.

    Still wish we had S-Jax…

  • AMC

    First of all, the Hornets are NOT trading CP3. They are one small deal from being under the luxury tax threshold, and as the Finnan article suggests, I don’t think they’re breaking up their core to do it, especially not shedding CP3.

    As for Jamison, I think the Cavs are going to have to wait to the very end of the trading deadline if that’s going to happen. Even if it were quickly resolved, and as others have pointed out, it most definitely will not be, I really don’t think the Arenas situation is going to impact the Wizards decision on Jamison all that much. Jamison is 33 with two years and $28 million left on his deal. The Wizards are not a team that can contend for anything beyond a first round playoff exit in the next two years. One free agent signing is not going to fix the Wizards’ problem. They have zero depth, a terrible bench and no defense.

    I think the bigger issue with respect to the Wizards is their ownership situation. Their longtime owner Abe Pollin just died and the team is currently in trust while the new owner, Washington Capitals owner, Ted Leonisis exercises his right to take over the franchise. Jamsion is still a popular player here in DC and trading him and/or Caron Butler may not be the way that Lenoisis wants to start his ownership of the team.

    As someone who lives in the DC area and casually follows the Wizards, I can tell you that team needs to be blown up. I never understood their strategy of keeping Arenas, Butler and Jamison together when that core had never won anything besides one playoff series. If they want to win anything meaningful, they need to start over. Keeping Jamison and his $28 million over two years on the books would be INSANE.

  • EZ

    @Jack re: punishment comparisons

    The variations in jail time have to do with the different laws in the states where the crimes were committed. Plax got three years because Bloomburg had been crusading against guns at the same time Plax decided to tuck an unlicensed handgun into his waistband without engaging the safety.

    Stallworth got off lightly in comparison because even though someone died because the guy wasn’t crossing at a crosswalk which defrayed some of his legal responsibility.

  • Roosevelt

    Someone explain to me why the following is not sheer geniousity: Z + Wally + whatever it takes for T-mac.

    After saving 20% on the trade, Houston can save further by buying out Z.

    If they don’t want a straight salary dump (and why wouldn’t they?), we can throw in Gibson, Hickson, Jawad, as needed.

    We will only become a dynasty with more than one GREAT player. Good players are not enough. If we want a great player, we will need to be ready to risk something, including the acquisition of an injury prone player.

  • Roosevelt

    And Re: Stephen Jackson; The Cavs have enough pretty good players. There are only five slots. At this point, adding a good player just means less PT for another good player. What we need is a great player.

  • Jack

    @EZ – Mos def. As a law student, I have done a lot of research re: those cases. Just a face value thing. The better question is what it says about the consistency of law in an era of postmodern jurisprudence.

    @Demetri – Yes.

    @Rosey – Stephen Jackson would be the 2nd best player on this roster. 3rd if you count Andy. I think he would be a huge upgrade over AP.

    People don’t realize how valuable 3 pt shooting and a player like LeBron can be. I’ve watched players like Tony Allen and JJ Redick race to the rack in recent weeks. We need people going to the basket. Everyone. Not just LBJ. That’s how ball movement happens. A guy closing out cannot stay with you. Everyone catches the ball and waits. Up-fake. Drive. Kick. This can happen 3 times a possession and beautiful things would happen. Get to the rim. Let the 3 pt shot grow organically out of the offense. We should not be dependent on LBJ throwing cross-court touchdown passes.

    I think Jax would’ve been a big upgrade because of his ability to get inside. Not to mention he is a much better defender than AP.

  • Denny

    I agree with all of AMC’s sentiments re: the Wiz, but I think that unless the can dump Arenas on somebody, at least one of the two (Butler, Jamison) if not both will be gone. Leonsis is willing to spend (see: 10 year deal with Ovetchkin) but it’s increasingly apparent that this is a team going nowhere.

    They need room to rebuild, and parting ways with a 33-year old owed $28 million is the perfect place to start.

  • Andrew

    @Jack: I’ll not begrudge anyone for wishing the Cavs had acquired S-Jax. There were certainly more than a few basketball minds much smarter than me who thought he would be a good fit for Cleveland. But I would refer you to this article by Krolik:

    Which isn’t to say that S-Jax and Larry Hughes are the same player. They’re definitely not. I would take Jackson a hundred times over before I would take Hughes on my team. But there are some questions about Jackson’s lack of shooting efficiency and how well he would have really fit into the Cavaliers’ offensive system.

    Just some food for thought.

  • BB

    I don’t think Washington is going to be able to void Agent Zero’s contract. If I remember correctly, Golden State tried to void Sprewell’s contract after he applied the choke hold to Carlesimo, and failed. If you can’t void a player’s contract for choking a coach, I’m not sure you can argue that having a few unloaded guns in the locker room is any more egregious. Either way, it will definitely be entertaining as it plays out in the media.

  • Andrew

    @BB: You’re right about that, but I believe it was Bill Simmons who brought up the point that the Sprewell incident was before the current CBA. The teams have a lot more power now to void contracts under the modern agreement. It still remains to be seen, though, if Washington can/will try to get out from the contract. I just don’t know.

  • Jaythetruth

    At first i thought we needed him but may not. I still would love to have him but we don’t need him. With the lakers falling (with kobe hurt) and orlando and boston a level beneath us, we have a GREAT chance at winning a title.

  • imnot12

    I argee with wantig to make a move now. But trading z will leave a HUGE gap in our post. To me i would really dispise the cavs if they would trade any one for David West. I do not like his post moves. If i was in Washington’s postion i would not trade Antwian Jamison for almost anyone. Even if the cavs get Jamison if they lose Lebron they will crumble. If Lebron goes to Ney york there team stinks they will not imrove much.

  • kevin

    i’d like to know if there is any other team trying to trade for jamison. i haven’t seen any rumor hinting for another franchise willing to get him. and that could be our best asset.

    however, i think we hear too much about this trade, and usually, the trades that DO happen are unexpected. so unfortunately i dont see the cavs getting jamison (and well it’s cleveland), even though it’d make sense for both teams.

  • Andrew

    @Kevin: Those are all excellent points, Kevin. The Flip Murray trade came out of nowewhere, the Ben Wallace trade came out of nowhere, and the Mo Williams trade came out of nowhere.

    But to be fair to both sides of the argument, the Shaq trade was long rumored and did eventually come to fruition. I’ve got my finger crossed that the Jamison rumors work out the same way.

  • youngblood

    Why are we not looking at dumping Z, Wally, and Hickson for Bosh??

  • Chris UK

    @youngblood – because they don’t need expirings (they’ve got a BIG one in Bosh) and the Raptors will want more than just Hickson for him.

    The Lakers are apparantly offering Bynum. Who’d you rather have, him or Hickson. Hmmmm.

  • CAVS FAN12

    i wish the cavs would just stay the way they are. They have the best record in the NBA right now so what’s the point? Without Big Z the cavs just aren’t the cavs. He helps out alot, like making corner 3’s, or stealing the ball …its just not gonna be the same ever !!!