Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'll have whatever he's smoking

Bill Simmons:

Fake Trade 8c: Cleveland deals the Shaq/Ilgauskas ECs with Jamario Moon (expiring 2011), J.J. Hickson (ditto) and Jawad Williams/Darnell Jackson (EC throw-ins) for CP3, Okafor, Peja, Peterson and Songaila. That knocks the Hornets well under this year's tax, gets them out of $26.6 million of Peja-Songaila-Peterson in 2011 AND dumps Okafor's monster deal ($70 million through 2014). Sure, it's the biggest salary dump trade of all time. But shouldn't New Orleans do the Grizzlies routine for a year or two (super-low payroll, rebuild through the draft) over losing $25-30 million a year to be a fringe contender these next three years? And if you're Cleveland, don't you have to take a risk like this to keep LeBron?

Here, look. We built you a super-team: Okafor, Chris Paul, Mo Williams, you and Varejao, with Delonte West, Anthony Parker and February Buyout Big Man X coming off the bench. We can win four straight titles with this team. CP3 makes your life easier. Stay here. Just stay.

As simply a basketball fan, there are two players that I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see LeBron play with: Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. That's my list. Sure, Chris Bosh would be nice and maybe LeBron and D.Wade would be spectacular but neither excites me like the possibility of seeing Chris Paul or Howard with LeBron. 1-3 pick-and-roll with CP3 and LBJ... how do you guard that? Lord knows how many easy baskets LeBron would get per game with Paul running the show (plus, having Paul run the offense means that we'd see a lot less Le-Iso).

As for Simmons's trade... obviously, I'd love it (starting 5 of CP3-AP-LBJ-Varejao-Okafor with Delonte, Mo, Peja, Varejao and Powe off the bench. Imagine going small with Paul-Mo-West-LBJ-Varejao. Yikes!). If you can get Chris Paul without completely fucking over your team, you do it (even if it does fuck up your team, I'd still consider it). Teaming LeBron with a player of Paul's caliber and stature is probably the best move the Cavs could make to entice LeBron to reup (cause unless he signs with Miami or decides to take less money(HA!), odds are LeBron won't be teamming up with another Top 10 player).

For what it's worth, Simmons has another fake Cavalier deal:

VP's Verdict: I'd clean house. What would Cleveland say if Washington offered them Jamison, Butler and Brendan Haywood for Shaq's expiring contract and J.J. Hickson? What would Miami say if Washington offered them the same trade for Jermaine O'Neal and a 2010 No. 1? My favorite of the possibles …

Fake Trade 9 (three-way): Wizards get Carlos Boozer and Shaq; Utah gets Butler and Mike James' EC; Cavs get Jamison, Haywood and Kyle Korver's EC. Utah drops close to the tax line. Cleveland upgrades two positions for nothing. And Washington remains competitive this season and gets to start over financially next summer. Just enough to string fans along in case The Chalk Outline rises from the sidewalk.

Now, I'd do that first trade in a heartbeat. I love me some J.J. Hickson but Jamison, Butler and Haywood would more or less fill all of the Cavaliers' current holes. Butler starts at the 2 (perfect), Jamison plays the stretch 4 (not quite perfect, but really good) and your big man rotation is Z, Varejao, Haywood and Powe come playoff time. Not bad at all.

These fake deals are all predicated on the idea that the Cavs are ready and willing to part with Shaq and/or Ilgauskas. I don't believe that's very likely, at least at this moment of the season.

However, give Simmons some credit; in both of his deals he has the Cavs receiving some big men in return (Okafor/Songaila or Jamison/Haywood). If the Cavs were to trade Shaquille or Zydrunas they'd have to get some bigs in return (they backed out of a Stephen Jackson deal because they couldn't get Ronny Turiaf). The Cavs picked up Shaq solely for the purpose of guarding Dwight Howard, there's no point in upgrading the shooting guard position if they means still can't matchup with Howard (and Gasol/Bynum).

Asides from the February 19th trade deadline, the three most important dates for the Cavaliers are Christmas (Cavs @ Lakers), January 21st (Lakers @ Cavs) and February 11th (Magic @ Cavs). If Shaq and the Cavs can hold their own against the bigs from Los Angeles and Orlando, then they'll be more likely to either stand pat or go for a periphery, plug-the-holes type deal (Troy Murphy, Jamison, etc). But if they get stomped or if Shaq is ineffective at both ends...

Look, Simmons's ideas are obviously pie-in-the-sky, best case scenarios (Chris Paul!) but I believe that these are the type of deals that Danny Ferry has to, if not directly purse, at least entertain. I firmly believe that the Cavs have to be willing to cut the cord and trade Shaq should the need arise.

They have roughly $30 million in the expiring contracts of Shaq ($21 million) and Ilgauskas ($11 million) that they can't afford to sit on (especially during LeBron's walk year). They owe it to themselves to explore every available option (unlike Randy Lerner) and that includes parting with Shaq and/or Z. I know they got Shaq for the playoff run but that doesn't (or shouldn't) mean he's untouchable.

This could be LeBron's last season in Cleveland, you gotta explore all of your options.