With the 2012 NBA Trade Deadline less than a week away, the Cleveland Cavaliers will likely be one of the teams fielding offers from teams for their veterans.
Thanks to an improved, but still less than stellar record of 14-23, the Cavaliers find themselves three games out of the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite a thrilling victory on Wednesday in Denver, general manager Chris Grant will likely utilize his veteran players to infuse his roster with young talent and/or draft picks at the deadline.
A number of teams—like the Lakers and Hawks—have already inquired about 25-year old backup point guard Ramon Sessions over the past month, as he has been labeled a starter on other teams. Other veterans, such as Antawn Jamison, Anthony Paker and Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, will likely be available to a contender in need of scoring for the playoffs.
While these names may or may not get opposing fans excited, Jamison has proven to be an excellent scoring option next to rookie Kyrie Irving this season. For a team in desperate need of an inside-out scorer, Jamison may be the best option on the market, and his $15 million expiring contract is very attractive for teams looking to shed future salary.
With all of this in mind, there are rumors and reports out of Atlanta that Hawks' big man Josh Smith has requested a trade. In a recent article The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Michael Cunningham wrote, “Even as Josh Smith is having a strong season for the Hawks he has let the team know he wants to be traded as the March 15 deadline approaches.” He also wrote, “…Smith believes he needs a fresh start with a franchise where he can better reach his potential on and off the court.”
Smith’s availability was also mentioned in a recent insider trade article on ESPN.com. They wrote, “If he could get a legit point guard and a credible forward to replace Smith, he’d do it.”
The 26-year old is having one of his best seasons in the NBA, as he is averaging 17.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and two blocks per game. He has been a lineup staple during his seven-year career, starting 551 of the 573 games he has played in. His activity, defensive presence and iron-man status would be a welcome addition to the future of the Cavaliers.
All of this trade speculation has this writer wondering, could the Cavaliers actually pull off a deal for Smith?
For starters, coming to Cleveland and playing with a budding 19-year old superstar in Irving would likely be an attractive option for Smith. It is true the team is in rebuilding mode, but Cleveland has proven willing to do anything and everything in order to become a contender since Dan Gilbert has taken over ownership.
Smith would also be getting a fresh start with a franchise and fan-base that would not get down on him the way he perceives Atlanta’s has. Cleveland is hungry for their Cavaliers to return to winning fashion, and any hard-working player with a winning mentality would be accepted by the team.
So just what would it take to get a deal with Atlanta done? Probably not as much as people think.
If what ESPN mentioned above is the basic guideline, the Cavaliers can offer the Hawks an enticing package. Not that this writer has any experience as a general manager, but with Atlanta already over the cap for next season, the Cavaliers can offer a package of cap relief and scorers for their current playoff push.
Josh Smith, $12.4 million
Marvin Williams, $7.5 million
Antawn Jamison, $15 million
Ramon Sessions, $4.2 million
Alonzo Gee, $884,293
Protected First-Round Pick from Sacramento
At first glance this deal seems to favor the Cavaliers more so than the Hawks. Atlanta is giving up two current starters in the deal that average a combined 26.2 points per game for them. While most Atlanta fans will immediately think this is a rip-off, allow this writer to explain.
Jamison will basically make up for the missing scoring production himself, as he is averaging 18.3 points per game. The other two players in the deal, Sessions and Gee, are averaging a combined 20.7 points in just 52.6 combined minutes a night. Gee could easily step into Williams’ starting small forward role, so essentially, the Hawks win this deal in terms of production for their lineup.
Not to mention Atlanta would also be getting a minimum of around $17 million in cap relief for next season, as Sessions is the only player of the three still under contract for 2012-2013. He does have a player option for the season, so keeping him would likely require a new deal.
As for the Cavaliers, in a rebuilding mode the team will have a hard time luring free agents to the city.
This means they will have to get creative in addressing current needs on the roster. If they have the ability to acquire a defensive big like Smith and an excellent shooter like Williams, both under the age of 27, then they shouldn’t think twice. Adding these two to a core of Irving, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao gives the Cavaliers some excellent hope for the future.
If the Hawks want to grant Smith his wish of leaving, this sounds like a win-win scenario for both teams.
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