NBA Trade Talk: J.J. Hickson Traded for Omri Casspi, Cleveland Cavaliers Upgrade

Benjamin FlackSenior Analyst IJune 30, 2011

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 23:  Omri Casspi #18 of the Sacramento Kings celebrates after hitting a shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers during an NBA game at ARCO Arena on December 23, 2009 in Sacramento, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The handwriting was on the wall when the Cavaliers drafted Tristan Thompson with the No. 4 pick a week ago in the NBA draft.

Thursday afternoon Cleveland traded J.J. Hickson to the Sacramento Kings for Omri Casspi and a protected first-round pick for 2012.

It's a little tough to see Hickson go after he improved so much last year; he really played a lot better in the second half of the season. But the Cavs weren't going to keep both Hickson and Thompson on the team going forward. It's just too difficult to try and develop two players who both play the same position.

But at the end of the day, what exactly was J.J.?

Just a player. That's all.

He started to show improvement late last year, but his ceiling is still pretty low. He'll never be a cornerstone player on a playoff team. His PER wasn't great, just 15.67. According to, he had a -3.8 rating last season as well, only ninth on the team.

So let's take a step back and remember that we didn't trade an All-Star player or even the best player on the team. I know that there's an emotional attachment with him, but you have to remember that the NBA is a business and he's just a player in the end.

He's also going into the final year of his rookie contract and likely will be looking for a big raise—something that the Cavs weren't going to give him.

But enough about what we gave up. Omri Casspi is a solid player who should be able to start for the Cavs from day one.

He's a super-talented 23 year old from Israel who can play out on the wing—a place that the Cavs desperately need some help.

He's long, at 6'9", and can shoot pretty well from the outside. He still has two years left on his rookie contract, which makes him very cheap in the short term—not to mention that he'll probably be cheaper than J.J. would have been in the long run.

The way I look at it, is to ask: "Are the Cavs a better team today than they were yesterday?"

And the answer is "Yes."

The idea of going into next season with Alonzo Gee starting at the SF position is enough to give a man nightmares.

Most of you probably haven't seen much of Casspi in his two years in the league (since he's been hiding out in Sacramento). But the guy can play. (I had him on my fantasy team his rookie year and he helped me out big time.) And he's still young enough to improve and become an even better player.

Will he ever be an All-Star? Not likely. But championship teams need more than just a bunch of All-Stars, they need role players too (see Dallas Mavericks over Miami Heat, circa 2011 Finals).

That's what Casspi will bring to the team.

As for the pick? It's crazy protected right now and we probably won't see it until the Kings make the playoffs. So I guess we can all root for the Jimmer now!

You can follow me on Twitter @ClevelandFlack.