January 08, 2010
It would work. It would truly fit. Both sides have a need, so why shouldn't this thing go down?
Well, it's tough; at this point.
Given the sniff test, after a good watch on national TV and a sound telling of exactly what happened in Orlando last year, it's easy to toss out the Cleveland Cavaliers as a unit sorely lacking in offensive charm.
Mike Brown's crew often appears to be running a very pedestrian offensive set, mainly because they run very pedestrian offensive sets. High screen and rolls for LeBron James(notes), with picks set by big men who aren't much of an offensive threat themselves, and little else. The occasional 1-4 set for LeBron, designed for him to take it to the rack. Looks for Shaquille O'Neal(notes) in the post at the start of the first and third quarters. Pops along the side for Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes) and Mo Williams(notes). Not much else.
It isn't pretty to look at, I submit, and I've been complaining about it since 2005-06. A reality check is in order, though, because in spite of the team's disturbing lack of clarity on that end, and with the knowledge of LeBron James' stat-based brilliance in place, one should point out that the Cavaliers are a top 10 team, offensively.
Offensive it is, but they've been there for a good chunk of 2009-10.
Cleveland is seventh in offensive efficiency as it stands, and they've been there for a while. That's perched in between Memphis and Orlando, and it's pretty solid — even though I rightfully submit that we should be expecting more.
So while we need to ask for more from this team, aesthetically, plopping in a stretch four who can score anywhere and at any rate and without a play being called for him wouldn't exactly turn the Cavaliers on their ear.
It would help, though, and it might be exactly what the Cavaliers need to become a clear favorite in the East, and a potential challenger to Los Angeles' repeat hopes. How does it happen, then?
Well it depends on whether the Cavalier franchise has huge cojones, larger-than-huge cojones, or creative cojones.
The team could, in an instant, send Zydrunas Ilgauskas to Washington for Jamison. The salaries are about as close as salaries get in this business, and Big Z's expiring contract would be a huge boon to the ‘Zards, who would then get to forget about the $28.4 million they owe Antawn after this year.
The problem with that? Big Z's more or less a saint in Cleveland, and rightfully so. He was around for all the nonsense, and to deal him to a loser like Washington right before the potential championship hits would be a karmic ka-boom. Nobody wants a karmic ka-boom.
The way around that? Hope that Washington cuts Big Z, which would allow Cleveland to re-sign Ilgauskas on the cheap just before the stretch run, after a 30 day sit-out.
The scary thing about that? Washington cannot put it in writing that they'll cut Z, because that would be tres, tres illegal under NBA guidelines. There's no guarantee Z would come back to Cleveland, and there's no guarantee that the NBA wouldn't toss in some logistical issue to complicate what would be the biggest trade-and-dump-and-re-sign move in the league's history. Sure, it's happened before, but the NBA doesn't like it, and with the mainstream media watching, the league could complicate things so as not to look bad.
The Cavs could, instead, sign-and-trade an unretired Wally Szczerbiak(notes). His cap hold and interest in earning money could be enough to sign the man to a big deal that would then be sent to Washington for Jamison's contract, expiring at the same time Big Z's would (June).
It's passable, it truly is, but would Wally play along?
And, forgetting that, is this the best move?
Shaquille O'Neal has been adequate in Cleveland. He hasn't exactly meshed, and his plus/minus stats are terrible, but he's been good enough.
Is that enough?
Wouldn't a deal sending Shaq to Washington for Jamison and DeShawn Stevenson(notes) (I know, I know) really help both sides? Big Z slides to center, Anderson Varejao(notes) plays the most minutes at the big positions, Stevenson goes away, Jamison shoots away - who is hurt by that?
Certainly not the Wizards. If they're able to dump Gilbert Arenas'(notes) contract, then the team is looking at something like $19 million in payroll next summer, in time for that massive free agent class.
The trade would represent a giant "we screwed up" from the Cavalier front office, though, which shouldn't be the case. They didn't screw up. They turned a couple of players who weren't helping — Ben Wallace(notes) and Sasha Pavlovic — into O'Neal. An expiring contract, a trade chip, someone to think about whether he contributes or not.
I know he made the cover of many, many magazines last fall, but Cleveland should have been treating Shaq as an asset (and not the answer) from the get-go. Do they have the guts to continue to think of him that way?
A deal with Jamison wouldn't be a panacea, and it's certainly not needed (not with the Cavaliers rolling), but it would help. And it would really help the Wizards.
Do these teams have the security, and smarts, to make it happen?