Cleveland Needs To Do A Herschel Walker Style Trade
Authored by Christopher Reina - 4th May, 2005 - 7:06 pm
With Dan Gilbert’s favorite team being the Detroit Pistons , it should come as no surprise if he and whomever is hired to become general manager, decide to trade LeBron James.
Trading James is what they should do, following the model of Jerry Jones when he purchased the Dallas Cowboys and subsequently traded Herschel Walker for five roster players and six draft picks.
That single trade triggered the Cowboys on their run of three Super Bowl's during the 1990’s. They were a true dynasty and probably the last NFL team to have depth at every position on the field.
The Cavaliers have been attempting to assemble a supporting cast to surround James as Jerry Krause did in Chicago around Michael Jordan, but the current roster in Cleveland shows none of the promise of those Bulls teams in the very late 1980’s.
James’ trade value gives Gilbert the opportunity to build a team-based club, very similar to the Pistons of today and the Pistons of the 80’s.
Maneuver #1: Complete sign-and-trade of Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
There are several teams that would love to sign Ilgauskas and would be willing to unload expiring contracts, young talent and multiple draft picks to make the deal work.
Maneuver #2: Trade LeBron James.
After getting great value from their Ilgauskas trade, the new Cavaliers GM will be blown away by the kind of offers he hears from the other end of his phone when he speaks to his fellow general managers and lets them know that the NBA’s greatest player twenty years or younger is available.
The scrambling for Shaquille O’Neal last summer will pale in comparison to the way teams will go after LeBron. O’Neal has turned Miami into a top-5 NBA team, but he is an aging center on the backend of his career.
The expiring contracts will be packaged along with James for two or three young players who are already proven, but who remain far from reaching the prime of their careers, which will allow them to continue to mature while draft pick after draft pick comes pouring in.
Places That Would Make Sense
Chicago: In Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Kirk Hinrich and Andres Nocioni, the Bulls have more than enough talent to send back to Cleveland. The Cavaliers could get three or four of these players. Taking the core of a Bulls team that finished 4th in the East, instantly makes the Cavaliers a legitimate playoff squad.
Taking on LeBron James would be worth the risk for the Bulls, making 2005 appear to be an awful lot like 1985.
Dallas: Mark Cuban always seems willing to make a trade, no matter how big it is. Assuming Dirk Nowitzki is indeed untouchable, Devin Harris and Josh Howard are two very good young players that would go great with the 5 consecutive unprotected first round picks that Cuban would relinquish.
Taking on LeBron James in Dallas would also make it a poetic place for him since they were the sly givers of Walker over a decade ago.
Golden State: Mike Dunleavy, Mickael Pietrus and Andris Biedrins are three young players who could become two-thirds of a starting line-up while it searches for a point guard and a power forward.
Taking on LeBron James would make the Warriors a top-4 team in the West. Baron Davis, Jason Richardson and James would be one eternal highlight reel that would put the Warriors into the playoffs for the first time since 1994.
Portland: In order to trade for Zach Randolph, the Cavaliers would have to send Ilgauskas in this package. Cleveland would like to also receive Sebastian Telfair, who showed flashes of brilliance in the second half of the season.
Taking on LeBron James would shorten James’ commute and the Blazers have been missing their Clyde Drexler franchise player ever since he left for Houston.
Los Angeles Clippers : With the Clippers track record for not making the playoffs, a collection of lottery picks would be very attractive to Cleveland, along with Shaun Livingston and Chris Wilcox.
Taking on LeBron James would instantly make the Clippers THE team in Los Angeles. His endorsements would surely improve upon their already strong fitting in the L.A. market and playing alongside Elton Brand would give him a steady inside presence that has been missing in Cleveland.
Seattle: The Sonics could send Flip Murray, Antonio Daniels and Rashard Lewis, along with a couple picks and Cleveland might bite. Lewis had a breakout season as he developed a low post game and Murray and Daniels are reserves who would be starters for many teams in the NBA.
Taking on LeBron James would give the Seattle a superstar as big as Ken Griffey, Jr. and a lethal wingmen combo in Allen and James.
New York: Other than Trevor Ariza and Mike Sweetney, there are no players on the Knicks roster that would be attractive to Cleveland, but the power of the ‘Only In New York’ cliché shouldn’t be ruled out. The Lakers were able to land O’Neal in the prime of his career and the Knicks could somehow manage to land James, just don’t ask how it could be done.
Taking on LeBron James would make MSG the center of the NBA universe for truly the first time and with the way the Knicks are willing to spend money, there is no doubt that they could surround him with talent.
The Team Who Wins The Lottery: Whichever team wins the lottery might receive a call from Cleveland. Andrew Bogut is a better Bill Laimbeer and if Gilbert hires Laimbeer, there will be a definite urge to land the Utah center.
The problem with any of these deals is whether any package that a team can put together would be worth giving up on the best player of his own generation, but because of the young talent and a collection of draft picks that they could get from trading James and Ilgauskas, Cleveland would be better equipped to win well into the future.
It is a gamble that could turn the Cavaliers into a Dallas Cowboys dynasty, but also could send the franchise reeling back into the mediocrtiy they saw during the late 90's and what the Vikings saw after they traded for Walker, but if they don't make a deal it is likely that they will remain in the limbo between lottery team and NBA powerhouse.
Christopher Reina is the Managing Editor of RealGM.com and may be reached at Christopher.Reina@RealGM.com.
You know it would seem the Managing Editor of RealGM should know what he's talking about, but he doesn't.
The NBA isn't like the NFL, one star player in the NBA makes a whole lot of difference. Historically the teams landing the big star have always done better than the team trading the star.
Another point. Reina suggests Dallas give up 5 consecutive unprotected first round picks. The problem with that is teams are prohibited from giving up consecutive first round draft picks. Plus if he would have looked at his own site he would have seen that Dallas already owes it's 2007 first round pick to Denver.
I don't mind fluff pieces like this obviously is, but I hate it when writers don't get their facts right. When the could so easily be checked.
I know from personal experience that not checking your facts seems to always come back to bite you.