Who knew this guy was actually sort of good at his job? Oh, for some clarification, he’s the GM of the Cavs, not a premium lawn equipment salesman.
After the recent trade the Cavs made in which they netted Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, Joe Smith, and Ben Wallace, the short-term ramifications were clear: Cleveland had gotten better, and certainly had thrown its hat into the ring with the two co-favorites of the Eastern Conference, Detroit and Boston. The long-term picture was a little harder to digest given the 8675645 moving pieces. But, now that the dust has settled, it’s time to take a look at what this trade means for the foreseeable future.
Cleveland still has all its first-rounders after the trade and somehow just got Chicago’s second-rounder in their massive swap without having to give up a single pick. The Chicago selection makes up for sending their own second-rounder in the 2008 draft to Phoenix, and in fact, the Bulls’ pick will be much higher than Cleveland’s.
The beauty of this trade cap-wise is it delayed small cap relief this year (and that means relief to the owner, not in terms of transactions) and turned it into a large group of expiring contracts next year and the year after, giving GM Danny Ferry a chance to turn a bunch of mediocrity into a star or two, should the right opportunity arise.
The Cavs will have an amazing amount of expiring contracts next year, a total of nearly $34 million. They can sit on this number or use it in any number of helpful ways, and the tidal wave will be felt across the NBA. Adding Michael Redd or Mike Miller on LeBron’s wing would be incredible, and he doesn’t need much else other than capable shooters and solid front court teammates who can finish the easy dunk and lay-up opportunites he creates for them. The following season, when King James himself has only one year remaining until his first taste of free agency, the team will have at least another roughly $30 million in expiring contracts (not counting LeBron, obviously).
Thus the Cavs are set up to build a long-term dynasty if they follow up their most recent move with more intelligent trades that net the right sort of players to build a team around the game’s preeminent. If you’re an Eastern Conference contender (I’m talking to you, Celtics and Pistons), you better get it done this year, because come next trade deadline, you might be looking at the future of basketball, a future that should remain in Cleveland for a long time.
So, with all their picks and a slew of expiring contracts coming off the books over the next two years, what can Danny Ferry do to avoid armageddon (the possible departure of the savior himself)?
- There have been talks about Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry jumping on the scene, but at the cost of their new team taking on Brian Cardinal’s pungent contract. For the Cavs–why not? They can simply use Cardinal as head cheerleader for another couple seasons and then pawn his contract off in another cap-oriented deal the following year. This would give Cleveland a couple years to give Mike Miller a try-out as LeBron’s shot-maker, and I’ll go on record as saying I’m a Kyle Lowry fan.
- How about Jermaine O’Neal? Cleveland might have what it takes, as long as Indiana doesn’t find any better offers. JO would be a nice defensive complement and catch-LeBron’s-amazing-pass-and-dunk-it candidate.
- Perhaps Milwaukee is ready to trade Michael Redd; Cleveland could have what it takes to land the guy they wanted initially instead of Larry Hughes. Not only does Ferry have his own picks and tons of cap room to deal with, he also could turn some of that cap room into additional picks, and in turn up his offer for a Michael Redd type.
- Maybe the Cavaliers would like a more versatile big man? How about something with Utah for Andrei Kirilenko or Mehmet Okur? Okur is more of a possibility given his struggles this season, but don’t rule out Kirilenko, either. With another couple first-rounders to sweeten the pot, expiring contracts and some youngsters might be enough to bring in AK47. A three-team trade could help facilitate something of this nature as well, and as we’ve just seen, Danny Ferry can handle a more complicated scenario pretty well.
So there you have it, the Cavs are still far from NBA champs despite their well-documented deadline deal, but no team is in better position to improve itself over the next two years. When you have the game’s best player already any improvement should put the rest of the league on notice.