Cavs' Ferry Hits a Home Run With Jamison Trade
After four seasons of toying with package deals of mediocre support, the Cavs pulled the trigger on acquiring a legitimate top-flight player to pair with the King. Though names like Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace and Delonte West are all considerable talents who have done good work for the Cavs, they're not the players the Cavs needed to put them in position for a title. The Cavs needed, more than ever this season, to show LeBron James they were willing to do anything to win a title. They needed to give James the equivalent of the Gasol trade. And Wednesday night, they did.
Antawn Jamison is a Cavalier.
Make no mistake, this may not have the ridiculous one-sided nature bordering on possibly-collusive that the Pau Gasol trade did, but this one is far more even (and that's after you consider that the trade wasn't so bad from Memphis' standpoint), more difficult to pull off (as was evident by the time spent on it), and just as relevant.
There are plenty of reasons to try and manage expectations on this trade. Statistically, as HoopData.com extrapolated on, Amar'e Stoudemire was the logical choice. And with Jamison's age and contract, if this deal does not do what it's built to do, it will be considered one of the biggest failed gambits of all time. But all of that is over-thinking it. 20.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, and that doesn't begin to consider the overall ability of Jamison. Jamison's strength extends from knowing how to work in an offense to what could be a high proficiency in Mike Brown's man-help defensive system. Jamison's defense has never been the stuff of legend, but the Cavs' system is such that it can cover a player's man-up deficiencies.
Jamison is also a locker-room leader, a true professional, and a player the Cavs notoriously stagnant offense desperately needs. Jamison can shoulder the load for James and work with him in the pick and roll. The pick and roll possibilities with Jamison-James with Shaq for cleanup is positively devastating. The news only gets better if the Cavs are able to re-sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas following a buyout, which is expected to happen. The overall depth of the Cavs improves, and they now have three capable power forwards to team with LeBron, insulating them from injury and increasing their positional flexibility which was crucial during their playoff loss to the Magic last season.
There's going to be talk of how Amar'e was the better option, and he very well may be. But Jamison was there. And the Suns were playing patty-cake, as they have for three years with Stoudemire.
Let's not understate this aspect. If the Cavs were to keep holding out for Amar'e, they risk finding themselves without either player at 3:01 p.m. Thursday afternoon. And that was simply not an acceptable outcome, the management had decided. They were making a move, a big one. And if the Suns wanted to wax poetic and write poetry about the anguish of their decision while listening to Cure records, that's all well and good. But the Cavs were getting their guy. And in the end, they chose a guy who won't damage the locker room chemistry, who will come to work at both ends of the floor on every play, and will chew nails if his team needs him to. Short-sighted? Maybe. But LeBron James enters free agency this summer.
The Cavs didn't have the luxury of hanging around for a notoriously wishy-washy franchise to flip-flop for 24 hours while other teams, including possibly an Eastern rival (Celtics) tried to put a package together for Jamison.
For Ferry, this was the move everyone begged him to make while he put together value moves that provided flexibility. It's the crowning jewel of the empire he's tried to build for the King. If it works out, it could go a long way to making the decision to leave very difficult for James. After all, the emotional experience of winning a championship tends to have long-term impacts. And as much as Stoudemire would have been available to build a dynasty around, what does it matter if you don't have James? The objective has always been, always should have been, and always will be to protect the franchise from the cataclysm of James leaving for bigger skylines. Acquiring Jamison isn't just a tremendous basketball move. It's a statement that the Cavs are ready, willing, and able to do what is necessary to build a truly dominant team around James' other-worldly talent.
After years of questioning Ferry's ability to provide James what he needs, the call has been answered. Now it's up to James, Mike Brown, and Jamison to make good on the promise this deal holds. The superhero has his sidekick, Tango has Cash, and now we'll see if the gamble pays off.