While LeBron should sleep like a baby after watching his team acquire four new members of its rotation, the rest of the Eastern Conference will probably have to have a scotch or twelve to get some shut eye tonight.
This trade is so gigantic it’s hard to even get your head wrapped around it without a graphic portayal. So, here’s the trade machine breakdown, with an additional second-round pick headed to Cleveland from Chicago.
OK, so I’m going to breakdown the rosters of the three teams now, and try to give some insight into what all this means, but my head might start doing 360s The Exorcist style so hopefully it makes any sense whatsoever at the end:
Here’s the new Cleveland depth chart with players worthy of any thought listed at their possible positions:
Daniel Gibson/Delonte West/Damon Jones
Wally Szczerbiak/Delonte West/Sasha Pavlovic
LeBron James/Wally Szczerbiak
Joe Smith/Anderson Varejao
Zydrunas Illgauskas/Anderson Varejao/Ben Wallace
I’ll discuss the impact of this deal on Cleveland’s long-term picture some time in the future, but as of now we’ll stick to current ramifications. Cleveland now has a cast of shooters to surround LBJ with in the backcourt, as well as a solid foursome of rebounders and defenders on the blocks. This puts the team firmly in line for the third spot in the conference, and given LeBron’s ability to handle entire teams by himself, the Cavs are now very serious contenders in the East.
On to Chicago:
Kirk Hinrich/Chris Duhon/Larry Hughes
Ben Gordon/Larry Hughes/Thabo Sefolosha
Luol Deng/Andres Nocioni
Drew Gooden/Andres Nocioni/Tyrus Thomas/Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah/Aaron Gray/Tyrus Thomas
Chicago gets younger with the trade and creates a tiny bit more financial flexibility, although not much, by way of turning Ben Wallace’s behemoth contract into Larry Hughes’ marginally less mammoth deal ($15 million per year for Big Ben versus $12 AAV for Hughes). However, Gooden and Hughes have a much greater chance of improving or maintaing their performances throughout the length of their contracts than do the players sent off, Wallace and Joe Smith. In that sense this is a small victory for the Bulls.
Although a modest improvement for Chicago, this trade changes nothing in the big picture. The Bulls are still stacked with promising young guys and several underachievers. They have contract extension issues looming over their heads, and the roster is still mediocre–you only play five guys at once and usually no more than eight guys can get real, meaningful minutes, so having 11 possible rotation members and not one star isn’t going to get this team past the first round of the play-offs no matter what. Consequently, while the trade helps long-term, there isn’t a whole lot to be gained this season, and the Bulls remain a team with no real identity, no real leader.
Lastly, the SuperSonics:
Seattle doesn’t deserve a depth chart, because it clearly has no intention of building a team for the time being. Other than Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, the Sonics don’t have anyone who I’d bet on being on the team more than a year or two more. The trade nets Seattle some more cap space this summer as opposed to next, but given their ownership situation and their imminent departure from the Pacific Northwest, why would any major free agent want to sign with the Sonics?
The SuperSonics have about 98 first-round draft picks (note that Kurt Thomas brought the Sonics three first-round picks in less than one season on the roster!) coming over the next several years, and GM Sam Presti will have a shot at building a dynamic young core, but this franchise is going to be bad for a long time. Draft picks alone won’t get the Force Launching Durants back on track, and while this trade certainly didn’t hurt the franchise, I can’t say I think it did much to help it get back to winning basketball games.