The latest rumor (from Bob Finnan of "The Morning Journal") is that the Cavs have offered Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the New Orleans Hornets for their star power forward David West. There has been talk of the Cavs' interest in West, but now they've apparently made an offer.
Well, of course they have.
Finnan attributes this rumor to an unnamed "league source," but for simplicity's sake, I'm going to go ahead and verify this for you:
It's true. 100%.
Ferry would give up Z in a heartbeat to land West, straight-up. Who wouldn't make this trade? (With the obvious exception of every single Hornets fan.)
If you're a Cleveland fan, you know how it feels. This would almost be like trading for a Cy Young Award winner . . . in exchange for nothing other than "an investment in the future."
That isn't a knock on Z. New Orleans . . . who's just a half game out of the eighth playoff spot in the West . . . would not be making a trade like this because they want Z. They would be making this trade because Z's contract comes off the books this summer and West's doesn't.
It would drop them below the luxury tax threshold, which would take them from a tax-paying team to a tax pay-out receiving team. That's a lot of savings . . . and the only reason they would do this. West is arguably the Hornets' second best player, and (along with Chris Paul) clearly a part of their core.
For New Orleans fans, this would suck. It's not a talent-for-talent swap, it's a talent-for-business swap. In fact, they may not even bother to keep Z . . . although they probably would.
[If the Hornets did trade for Z, and did buy him out, he would be eligible to be re-signed by the Cavs after 30 days . . . but this just doesn't seem as likely as it does for other teams. As stated above, the Hornets are less than a game out of a playoff berth, and are 8-2 over their last 10 games. If the Hornets traded West for Z now, you'd think they'd keep him for the fans, if nothing else. After all, Z can still play, and he could keep them in playoff contention.]
For better or worse (that's "better" if you're a Cavs fan, and "worse" if you're not) there could be a lop-sided trade or two like this available to Ferry. And he should talk with Indians' GM Mark Shapiro about how to negotiate with these teams. (And I'm kinda serious about that.)
Because unless something earth-shattering comes across Ferry's desk, the Cavs aren't looking for a "trade", they're looking for a heist. They are contending for a title . . . now . . . so there won't be any roster-altering trades like we made in 2008 to land Delonte West (and players that have since turned into Shaquille O'Neal, Mo Williams and Danny Green).
Ferry probably won't be offering more than Z (because of his coveted $11 million expiring contract) . . . and, in the right deal, a piece from the non-untouchable portion of the Cavs roster: J.J. Hickson, Jawad Williams, Darnell Jackson, and / or Danny Green.
Theoretically, it's possible that the Cavs could piss off NBA commissioner David Stern by signing-and-trading Wally Szczerbiak, who we have "Bird rights" to, but who is essentially retired.
But "Plain Dealer" beat writer Brian Windhorst has said this is less likely than it may have been last summer, because Wally just landed a job with CBS Sports to do some NCAA Tournament coverage . . . and he'd have to give that up to go along with a sign-and-trade, since the league would probably force him to (at least physically) join the team he was traded to. Technically, it's still an option, though.
There are two other players: Shaq (because of his super-sized $20 million expiring contract) and Daniel Gibson (because of his talent, and sinking position on Mike Brown's depth chart) that could be available in a bigger trade . . . but most likely aren't headed anywhere, because of their importance to "The Cavaliers: The Playoff Team".
Of course, there's a chance that nothing happens, and the Cavs stay with what they have.
That wouldn't be a failure, necessarily. You can't force a team to trade you something for nothing . . . and if you're the Cavs right now, you don't trade a rotation player for some other player just for the sake of making a trade. The Cavaliers have the second best record in the NBA. It's not a Title, but you don't mess with that.
Since they cut Coby Karl, they have a spot available on the roster to sign an unsigned player . . . or a player that is cut or bought out after the trade deadline, like Joe Smith was last year.
And Leon Powe will be joining the rotation in the middle of next month, probably soon after the All-Star Break. Jamario Moon will also be back soon, and Daniel Gibson is ready on the bench, if needed. So it's not like the Cavs won't be tinkering with their roster / rotations as they prepare for the playoffs.
Back to the Z / David West trade . . . it isn't happening. Not straight up.
If we're being serious about this, we'd have to add J.J. Hickson and a first round pick, at the very least. (And of course the trade would have to be balanced, salary-wise.)
It's one thing to say that Washington may be willing to dump Antawn Jamison for nothing. The Wizards are a mess . . . their ownership is in flux . . . and they are well into the luxury tax. Also, Jamison is 33, and has two years left on his contract after this season, at $13.4 million and $15 million.
The Hornets are just slightly into the luxury tax, and wouldn't need to make this big of a deal to get themselves under. They also have a superstar who didn't just plead guilty to a felony. Also, West is just 29, and his salary actually declines over the next two seasons. He's making $9 million this year, $8.3 million next year and $7.5 million in 2011-2012.
Even if the Hornets did want to unload him, there must be at least one other team that would make a more competitive offer to New Orleans than just Z and his expiring contract.
Plus, the Cavs probably would like to have a crack at re-signing Z, since he gave a lot to this organization to be booted at this stage. The Wizards don't really have a reason to keep Z, so they'd probably buy him out. But the Hornets, as long as they're winning, would have no reason not to keep him.
Oh, and there's also this official (albeit vague) quote, from Hornets GM Jeff Bower:
"The foundation of our plan has always been to maintain our core group of players and to look at ways that wouldn't affect our overall basketball team on the court."
You never know, though. Most of the league is in a holding pattern, salary-wise, trying to save (or create) cap-room for the hyped free agent class of 2010 . . . and there's also a lot of teams that aren't in a good position to be cutting huge checks in luxury tax penalties. So since the Cavs are spending, Ferry should definitely have some chips to take into the bargaining room (with Shapiro).
One thing is for sure: The move(s) that Ferry make(s) . . . or doesn't make(s) . . . will be the most important of his career as a GM.
He's on the clock now. One month and counting.