After attempting to bring in Amar’e Stoudemire, the Cavs worked out a three-team trade to land (former) Washington Wizard Antwan Jamison. Cleveland also picked up Sebastian Telfair (Clippers), who has not played since mid-January due to injury.
The Wizards get Zydrunas Ilgauskas from Cleveland and Al Thornton from the Clippers. Los Angeles gets Drew Gooden, who had just been traded to the Wizards from Dallas.
The word around the campfire was that Gooden’s contract will be bought out. While it appears Gooden will remain in L.A., there is also word that Big Z will buyout his contract. This would allow Ilgauskas to rejoin the Cavs (after 30 days).
The potential for Ilgauskas to return to the Cavaliers has upset Celtics head coach Doc Rivers and Lakers’ head coach Phil Jackson. The argument is that, if Big Z returns, the trade is essentially the Cavs receiving Jamison and Telfair for nothing.
Well, that’s not completely true; Cleveland did trade away the rights to Emir Preldzic.
This trade, and the potential for Ilgauskas to return to Cleveland, led Phil Jackson to stated the following:
"They’re going to get Ilgauskas back and it’s going to be one of those scenarios that we see in the NBA where you ship a player out, you get another player, then your player retires, or they pay him off, and then he comes back in 30 days."
Now, when the Lakers were able to steal Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies, I do not remember Jackson complaining about sketchy trade practices. The Lakers sent Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, and Aaron McKie to Memphis for Gasol.
The problem is that none of those players really helped the Grizzlies. Brown gave Memphis an amazing 3.5 points and 3.8 boards per game before being released.
Crittenton, prior to throwing his guns in the air with the Wizards, did give a bit more (7.4 ppg in 18+ minutes) in the first (half) season in Memphis before barely playing in 2008-9; he was trade to Washington after nine games.
As for McKie, he was not even playing at the time! He was an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers. However, the Lakers held his rights, and sent him to Memphis as part of a salary cap move. McKie never played a minute for Memphis, and soon returned to the Sixers.
So, essentially the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol for nothing. Well, again not entirely correct, as it was a Gasol-for-Gasol trade; the Grizzlies acquired the Lakers’ rights to Marc Gasol. The younger Gasol has played well for Memphis, while the older (Pau) helped the Lakers to a title.
Still, that is a very sketchy trade. Yet, Jackson had no problems benefiting from a lopsided transaction. Again, Memphis continues to benefit from Marc Gasol, but overall it was a huge boost for the Lakers while keeping Memphis down.
Who knows? Maybe Emir Preldzic turns out to be a steal for the Wizards. But looking at the trade between the Cavaliers, Clippers, and Wizards, it does not look all that different from the trade the Lakers pulled.
So, for Jackson to complain about the Jamison-Ilgauskas trade is silly. Cleveland did what the Lakers did—better themselves while keeping down a conference foe down. Jackson should applaud the Cavs for taking a page out of the Ol' Zen Master’s book.
Then, we had Celtics’ coach Doc Rivers, who is concerned about what should be done in order to not allow traded players to immediately return to their former team. Here is what he had to say:
"I don’t know what you do [maybe] just not allow them to go back to the same team or whatever. …I do think that will be changed eventually, but I do have a problem with it."
So, Rivers has an issue with Cleveland being able to get Ilgauskas back?
Hmm, what is up with that Gary Payton-Antoine Walker trade in the 2004-05 season? During that season, Boston traded Payton to the Atlanta Hawks for Walker, only to have the Hawks turn around and waive “The Glove.” Payton then rejoined the Celtics.
Now, to Rivers’ credit, he did acknowledge that incident.
"I loved it three years ago when we did it with Gary Payton, if you remember, but now I think it sucks. I think it’s a terrible deal. ...I actually do have a problem with that though. We did it, and I’m joking, but I do think [it's a problem]."
Nevertheless, it is incredibly hypocritical for Rivers to criticize the Cavaliers for doing something he himself pulled not too long ago. He might be “joking”, but the real joke is him being critical of Cleveland after he had no problem welcoming Payton back to the Celtics.
Is the deal one-sided? Certainly. Is the fact that Ilgauskas will be able to return to Cleveland ludicrous? Absolutely.
But the NBA allows for these types of trades to take place. The NBA could obviously step in and block the trade, but the NBA is one single company (rather than 30 individual companies), and thus wants what is best for the product as a whole.
So, improving a team with one of the league’s most popular players (LeBron James) comes at the expense of the NBA’s worst teams (Washington).
It could be argued that by allowing Ilgauskas to leave, and trading away Gooden, the Wizards are looking forward to the future. They bring in a decent player in Thornton, while allowing some young players like Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee some quality minutes down the stretch.
Washington is not going to the playoffs, so they might as well prepare for next season.
Perhaps the Celtics and Lakers are jealous. After all, the best that either team could do before the trade deadline was acquire a slam dunk champion (Nate Robinson from the New York Knicks).
But then again, the Lakers have a very solid team, and, considering how they are playing without Kobe Bryant in the lineup, the team did not need to make any big moves.
So maybe it is more likely that both teams are upset that Cleveland, the team with the best chance to challenge the past two NBA champs, made a major improvement that helps open up the floor for James and Shaquille O’Neal. Cleveland did it by following the blueprints designed by the Lakers and Celtics. And they did it all in one transaction!
Yes, such a trade does shine the spotlight on these lopsided trades and sketchy transactions. The Cavaliers upgraded their team, but did so within the rules of the NBA. And based on their responses, both Jackson and Rivers come across as jealous hypocrites.
All quotes were taken from the ESPN.com article cited at the beginning of this article.
This article first appeared at Uncle Popov's Drunken Sports Rant on Friday, Feb. 19, 2010.