Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry has done it again.
On the eve of the NBA's trading deadline, the 43-11 Cavs have pulled off another blockbuster trade to bolster their roster for the season's ending stretch and playoffs, bringing former Washington Wizards forward Antawn Jamison to Lake Erie's shores.
The deal sends Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, his expiring contract, and a Cleveland first-round draft pick to Washington. Ilgauskas' name has been in the midst of trade talks since they began to brew earlier this season.
It has been widely assumed that wherever Ilgauskas ends up, his contract will be bought out, enabling him to return to Cleveland after a mandatory 30-day waiting period.
The L.A. Clippers, a third party involved in the deal, will send guard Sebastian Telfair to the Cavaliers while acquiring the oft-dealt Drew Gooden from the Wizards.
Jamison, a 6'9" power forward that can ably shoot, drive, rebound, and facilitate, buttresses an already huge Cleveland frontline while giving the Cavs a big man that can stretch defenses—something the Cavaliers have coveted for years.
While it was rumored that a deal that would bring Phoenix man-beast Amar'e Stoudemire to Cleveland was on the verge of being completed (a deal that would have required the Cavs to ship promising forward J.J. Hickson—a player they clearly covet—to the desert for the All-Star), Jamison ended up being Ferry's latest larceny.
If Ilgauskas is indeed brought back into the fold in Cleveland, the Cavs would essentially be parting with a first-round draft pick in exchange for Jamison and would boast a frontline featuring LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal, Jamison, Anderson Varejao, Hickson, Jamario Moon, Ilgauskas, and Leon Powe (who is near returning to action following a knee injury that has caused him to miss all of this season thus far).
Coupled with what is now widely known as an equally deep backcourt (Mo Williams and Delonte West have been injured and/or limited in playing time and Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker have performed mightily during the Cavaliers' current 13-game win streak), this monstrous group of forwards and centers firmly places Cleveland as the far-and-away favorite to win it all come June.
For Ferry, deals like this one are nothing new.
Two summers ago, the former Cavalier magicked a trade that swiped Williams from the Milwaukee Bucks for what was essentially Damon "Best Shooter in the Universe" Jones. After a couple seasons, it's probably safe to say that deal worked in Cleveland's favor.
The trade deadline preceding the Williams swipe saw Ferry amass a package that saw West, Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, and Wally Szczerbiak come to Cleveland in exchange for Donyell Marshall (whose shot is about as "good" as Jones' and whose mobility is worse), Larry Hughes, Shannon Brown, and Cedric Simmons.
In that trade, the Cavaliers also acquired a 2009 second-round draft pick from the Bulls. That variable ended up being Danny Green, who has shown flashes of shooting ability and athleticism during the recent absences of West and Williams.
Again, one certainly wouldn't be alone when saying that exchange helped the Cavs take steps toward the elite status they have carried for one-and-a-half seasons and counting.
The key to the Jamison deal is the maintenance of Hickson. Since being inserted into the Cavs' starting lineup in November, Hickson has raised his productivity on both ends of the floor and given the Cavs an incredible spark (and yes, more depth).
Hickson's ability to find easy baskets can be almost entirely attributed to James' skill at directing and finding the open man, but his constant presence around the ball—on offense and defense— has made him a force in the Association (the Suns were demanding he be a part of the trade for Stoudemire, remember?).
Hickson, like Varejao before him, has reaped massive benefits playing alongside LeBron, but has made more than his share of bread using this relentless, tenacious style of play.
It looks as if Ferry has once again helped vault the Cavaliers one big step closer to collecting the long-awaited Cleveland major sports championship this summer.
His ability to take advantage of other clubs' situations (Washington's fire sale/rebuilding process, for example) and give up next to nothing while doing so has made the aforementioned triumph a probability.
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