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Right Move, Right Time
Right Move, Right Time
Antawn Jamison isn't Amare Stoudemire. He's not a prime-of-career superstar who could team up with LeBron James to rule the NBA for the next seven years.
Jamison is 33. He's under contract until the age of 36. By then, even a guy who has aged as gracefully as Jamison will likely start to show wear on his treads.
He's on the back nine of his career, his contract isn't the most flexible, he doesn't possess mind-blowing athleticism, and at 6'-8" he's a little undersized for an NBA power forward.
That's pretty much everything negative you can say about Jamison, wrapped up in three short paragraphs.
Perhaps that's the most amazing thing about the Cavs' deadline prize, acquired late Wednesday in a three team trade with the Wizards and Clippers. The Cavs acquired Jamison and Sebastian Telfair in a deal that cost them Zydrunas Ilgauskas, sent to Washington, and their 2010 first-round draft pick, sent to the Clippers.
If there is no such thing as a perfect trade, Danny Ferry just came darn close in acquiring Jamison. It's the right trade at the right time for the Cavs and for Jamison.
A Stoudemire trade would have been filled with intrigue, a couple large forkfuls of risk and a whole lot of water cooler debate over whether Stoudemire could fit with the Cavs, or whether he would sign an extension this summer, or whether he could be re-molded into at least a competent defender.
Whereas the prospect of a Stoudemire trade was spicy salsa to Cavs fans, the Jamison deal is comparative steak and potatoes. Tried and true sustenance from one of the league's rock-solid players.
And if you're the Cavs and talking NBA title this June, that's exactly what you need. A Stoudemire trade might have passed with flying colors, but more likely in the longer term as Stoudemire spent the next how-many-ever months getting deprogrammed of his offense addiction by Mike Brown and his staff, and re-programmed with a mentality that values defense and setting up teammates.
There probably would have been some friction and bumps in the road, at the very least.
With Jamison, there is no rolling of the dice from a basketball standpoint. As an outside-shooting power forward, he is just what the Cavs need to open up operating space for Shaq and LeBron inside. As a wide, muscular post player, he can get his shot off with his back to the hoop, box out with authority and defend bigger forwards. As a locker-room leader who is widely regarded by coaches, players and media members as one of the true class acts of the league, he brings none of the selfishness and maturity issues that might have been present wth Amare.
And what does Jamison get out of the deal? His best shot at a ring. Jamison has shown an ability to self-motivate and seize the moment in years past.
Keep in mind that Jamison was the guy who played purely on pride against the Cavs in the 2007 playoffs. With Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler on the shelf with injuries, it was Jamison who kept fighting over the course of a four-game Cleveland sweep, which must have seeemed like a hopeless proposition at times. But Jamison still showed up to work with his hardhat on, averaging 32 points and nearly 10 rebounds in the four games.
Jamison brings the Cavs their most talented presence at the big forward spot since Carlos Boozer spent his first two NBA years here before taking the back door out of Cleveland. It's a hole the Cavs have struggled to fill with everyone from Drew Gooden to Donyell Marshall to Anderson Varejao to J.J. Hickson. The latter two will now back Jamison up.
Oh yeah, did I mention that the Cavs didn't have to part with Hickson in the deal? Over the past week, there has been much hand-wringing by fans on message boards over the wisdom of giving up Hickson, who has started to show promise over the past month. Both Phoenix and Washington originally demanded Hickson from the Cavs. But Wednesday, Washington backed off their Hickson demands, and the Cavs managed to make a deal without involving their best youngster.
Even though the Cavs dodged having to part with Hickson, the trade did come with a price. The Plain Dealer's Brian Windhorst reported late Wednesday that the mood around team headquarters was rather bittersweet. The Cavs finally landed a player they had been coveting for quite some time, but in the process, had to ship away the longest-tenured Cav in Ilgauskas.
Ilgauskas could -- and likely will -- request a buyout of the remainder of his expiring contract from the Wizards. It's hard to imagine that he'll finish the season anywhere but Cleveland, but it's now out of the Cavs' hands. Z and his agent have to negotiate a buyout, and begin entertaining offers. He can return to the Cavs 30 days after completing the buyout, but in the interim, he's a free agent, and if for some reason he sees fit to sign elsewhere, the Cavs can't stop him.
But sentimentality can't rule trade talks. The Cavs felt they needed the upgrade that Jamison provides, and Z -- now little more than a backup center -- was worth the price.
Hopefully Z comes back. But in the event he doesn't, the price was still right. So many times, teams hit the trade market trying to find the right match, scrambling to make the pieces fit, mixing together odd-tasting three-team concoctions in the quest to find the right pieces to the puzzle.
In the Cavs' case, there was no guesswork when the team decided to focus squarely on Jamison. He is a hand-glove fit for what the Cavs are trying to accomplish, and it just so happened that the Cavs had the large expiring contract that the soon-to-be rebuilding Wizards wanted in return.
It's the third time in as many years that Ferry found the right match for his expiring contracts. He acquired Mo Williams in much the same way in the summer of 2008, and Shaq last summer.
If the Jamison deal works out like those deals, the Cavs have to be considered the favorites to win their first NBA title in franchise history this June
Feb 18, 2010 11:16 PM
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