Sunday, April 15, 2007

This Sounds Familiar

Terry Pluto:

When it comes to Larry Hughes, some Cavaliers fans need a history lesson. They need to go back to the summer of 2005 when Hughes was a free agent. They need to put themselves in the place of owner Dan Gilbert and General Manager Danny Ferry and ask, ``What would I do?''

As the summer of 2005 began, the Cavs had just missed the playoffs by a game. LeBron James was one year away from being able to sign an extension. Many fans were worried that James already would begin plotting his exit because the team had missed the playoffs twice and was headed to its third coach in three years.

Here were the guards on the roster at the end of the 2004-2005 season: Eric Snow, Jeri Welsch, Ira Newble, Sasha Pavlovic, Luke Jackson and Jeff McInnis.

The team was six years removed from the playoffs.

As Ferry said, ``We had to change the culture and start winning, and we had to be aggressive in free agency. We needed to get some players to help us win now.''

Here were the free-agent guards, and their status:

Joe Johnson was restricted. The Phoenix Suns were interested in trading him but wanted at least two first-round picks. The Cavs loved Johnson, but they had no first-rounders to trade until 2009! That's because the top picks in 2005 and 2007 had already been traded, and the NBA won't allow you to trade first-rounders in consecutive seasons.

Michael Redd was restricted and represented by the bottom-dollar Poston Brothers (Kellen Winslow's agents). The league knew that he would re-sign with Milwaukee because the Bucks could offer the most money and the most years under NBA rules.

Ray Allen was unrestricted, but the Seattle SuperSonics could offer him the most money and the most years under NBA rules.

Raja Bell was an unrestricted free agent, but he was the first free agent to sign because he had his heart set on Phoenix and is very close to Suns point guard Steve Nash. He had no interest in a rebuilding situation with the Cavs. He signed in the first hour of free agency.

Hughes was unrestricted. The Washington Wizards were interested, but not about to offer him a maximum contract because they had just opened the bank for Gilbert Arenas.

If you were Ferry, you realized the same rules that would allow you to offer James more years and money than anyone else would prevent you from signing Allen and Redd. It didn't matter how much Gilbert was willing to pay; the NBA is set up to give the current team a true hometown advantage in free agency.

Meetings with Allen and Redd indicated that they wanted the best deal possible, and only their current teams could supply that. The Johnson situation was frustrating because there were no picks to trade. The 2005 pick was shipped off to pay for Wesley Person from 1997, and he was long gone. The 2007 pick was used for Welsch.

The Suns traded Johnson to the Hawks for two first-rounders and Boris Diaw. The Suns didn't want a lot of players, for salary-cap purposes; they wanted picks, especially from a losing team that could end up being in the lottery.

That left Hughes.

Just sayin' (actually, the rest of the article has Pluto discussing Joe Thomas and why it should happen. So we agree there as well).

However, I'd be willing to bet lots of money (Bruce Drennan style) that Hughes won't be on the roster come next season.

Also, Branson Wright says that Mike Brown's job is safe even if they lose in the first round. I don't believe that at all. I think he needs at least a strong second round showing (plus very few offensive meltdowns) to keep his job. I think the only way he is completely safe is if they make the conference finals.

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