In LeBron James' Wake: How To Rebuild The Cleveland Cavaliers

Benjamin C. KleinCorrespondent IJuly 26, 2010

MIAMI - JULY 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is introduced during a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Despite what Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wants the state of Ohio to believe the Cavs are nowhere near close to being a championship team and it is time to rebuild. Now while the loss of LeBron James is still raw, the Cavs cannot take the current roster seriously as a contender. They are not one player away or one trade away from contention, they are years away and they have to face that fact.

Now the goal of the Cavaliers this year should be simple: blow the team up with an eye towards getting both salary cap relief and a young core of players to build around. I will admit though that while this is simple, it will not be easy.

I have come up with three trades that I believe there is some chance could happen if they were discussed, would work under the salary cap and would give the Cavaliers salary cap relief, a young stud or both.

The NBA is a tricky thing; players are rarely traded for equal value. Trades in today’s NBA are as much about economic considerations as they are about basketball, and my trades take that into account.

The Cavaliers are going to be horrible next year, but if they can manage to show promise then their fans wont give up on the team in droves. 

Each of the trades I have proposed will come with an explanation as to why each team would do such a trade.


#1: Trade Antawn Jamison to the Sacramento Kings for Samuel Dalembert

Why the Kings would do it: The Kings were thrilled to get Dalemebert for economic reasons as much as they were happy to get him for his basketball skills. Now DeMarcus Cousins looking so NBA ready and Dalembert is just standing in his way. On top of this the Kings have a big hole at the small forward position and Tyreke Evans and Cousins could both use a veteran presence like Jamison to guide them through the rough times. Jamison’s contract also only lasts one more year than Dalemberts, so they could keep him for next year and then trade his contract before it expires to bring in even more help for the new dynamic duo.

Why the Cavs would do it: Cap relief, plain and simple. Dalembert’s contract ends a year sooner than Jamison’s does.


#2: Trade Anderson Varejao, part of LeBron James Trade Exception and a future 1st round pick to the Hawks for Al Horford and Mike Bibby

Why the Hawks would do it: The Hawks are one of the cheapest franchises in the NBA. Mike Bibby is dead salary cap weight and Al Horford is about to demand a max contract that they wont want to give him because they just maxed Joe Johnson for some reason. This trade allows the Hawks to save a bunch of money in the short term by dumping Bibby’s contract. It also has long term economic implications as instead of maxing Al Horford at 5 years for 80 something million they can pay have Varejao 5 years at 35 million. And that is the only reason why the Hawks would do this, to save around 45 million dollars.

Why the Cavs would do it : Al Horford plays out of position at center for the Hawks and it kills his production and potential. If he got a chance to play the 4-spot he could easily be a top five power forward in the NBA next year. And absorbing 10 million dollars for Mike Bibby over two years is worth getting Horford.


#3: Trade Mo Williams, J.J. Hickson and a future 1st round pick to the Portland Trailblazers for Greg Oden, Jerryd Bayless.

Why the Blazers would do it: The guys who drafted Greg Oden have all been fired so organizational loyalty just went out the door. Fans wouldn’t revolt either because he is hurt all the time. This way the Blazers get one of the best low post prospects in the NBA, a first round pick and a starting point guard that would be a good fit next to Brandon Roy. I guess the new Blazers regime has to ask themselves; is the risky potential of Oden worth sacrificing the present?

Why the Cavs would do it: Greg Oden still has the potential to be a franchise center and while the Blazers might be ready to give up on him a new team can invest a year or two to see how it turns out. It is very high-risk high reward but Oden’s potential is way past that of Hicksons.


New Lineup

Here is what the Cav’s lineup would look like if these three trades went down.

PG Mike Bibby           

SG Anthony Parker

SF Jamario Moon

PF Al Horford

C Samuel Dalembert           

Greg Oden and Jerryd Bayless coming off the bench


Conclusion: This new incarnation of the Cavaliers would be an incredible rebound so soon from the LeBron fiasco in my opinion. This new variation of the Cavs has promise and talent while still offering salary cap relief. And to top it all off this team would be horrible, so they have a chance to get a very high pick in next years draft. That pick plus Oden, Bayless, and Horford would form a fantastic nucleus for a revitalized Cleveland Cavalier team.