NBA Trades: Did Cleveland Cavaliers Make Right Move with Hickson, Casspi Swap?

Ryan Sponseller@sponyContributor IIIJuly 5, 2011

NBA Trades: Did Cleveland Cavaliers Make Right Move with Hickson, Casspi Swap?

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    Is Omri Casspi and a potential 2017 2nd Round Pick equal to a 22 year-old power forward that has flirted with averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds a night? 

    The Cavaliers decided to cash in their most valuable trade bait prior to the NBA Lockout, hoping that last Friday was the peak of their leverage with Hickson’s suitors.   

    As with last year’s Baron Davis trade, all of the cards have not been laid on the table at the time of the trade, as the outcome of this trade could be determined by the fortunes of the Sacramento Kings.

The Cavs Will Receive a 1st Round Draft Pick…

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    The Cavaliers need the Kings to make the playoffs in order to receive a 1st Round draft pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.  

    The Kings have made drastic changes to their roster this offseason, but they were the second-worst team in the Western Conference last year.  They’ll need to win 22-25 more games in order to potentially clinch the eight-seed. 

    The Kings’ nucleus of DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans and the offseason additions of Hickson, John Salmons, Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Honeycutt, and Isaiah Thomas should give the Kings a reasonable shot at making the playoffs.  Comparing the Kings’ offseason activity to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 2009 summer could lend insight into the team’s future. 

    The Thunder went from 23 wins in 2008-2009 to 50 wins in 2009-2010.  The difference wasn't the addition of superstars (Durant and Westbrook played in 2008-09), but the introduction of a supporting cast.  Oklahoma City drafted James Harden, traded for Eric Maynor and Thabo Sefolsha, and past draft pick Serge Ibaka joined the team from Europe. None of the players needed to average more than ten points a game, but they filled out the Thunder rotation by all averaging more than 15 minutes per game.

Unless Cousins and Evans Aren’t Big Enough Stars

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    The Thunder made their 26 game turnaround with Durant and Westbrook, the Celtics needed Pierce-Allen-Garnett for their 42 game turnaround in 2007-08, and the Nuggets needed Carmelo for their 26 win improvement in 2003-04. 

    For the Kings to follow the pattern of success set by these teams, they’ll need a star to emerge in the transition. 

    If the Kings struggle through the next six years, the Cavs will end up with a 2nd Round Pick in the 2017 Draft.

The Trade Distances the Cavs from the LeBron James Era...

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    To many Cleveland fans, J.J. Hickson’s value can be summed up by the stat line in the most important game of the season: 

    6 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 1 personal foul 

    That performance came on December 2, 2010 against the Miami Heat

    J.J.’s uninspired play against friend, LeBron James, angered many fans, but may have irreparable damage to the relationship with his coach Byron Scott. The trade helps remove those bad memories, establishing a new future for the Cavs.

But Hickson Had a Strong Finish to Season, While Casspi Struggled

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    Following a stressful offseason that drew criticism from Byron Scott, J.J. averaged 19.1 points and 12.5 rebounds in the final 13 games. Hickson’s final totals for the season were 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.  

    Casspi’s season totals of 8.6 points and 4.3 rebounds a game aren’t horrible when looking at J.J.’s complete season, but the home-stretch showed a great disparity. Casspi’s minutes were slashed in the final 11 games, as he produced 3.4 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. 

    Hickson is simply the better player. 

Hickson’s Contract Expires at the End of the Season...

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    J.J. Hickson will play in the final year of his contract if the NBA has a season, a statement that doesn’t deserve much confidence based on the gap between the owners and players. If the season is lost, the draft pick would be gained for essentially nothing.

But J.J. and Omri Will Both Be Restricted Free Agents

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    Omri Casspi will be given the same situation in 2012-2013 as Hickson will face, as they both will be restricted free agents. This allows a team to match any offers made by competing teams, giving the Cavs the upper-hand in signing their own player. 

    If the Cavs believed J.J. should be included in future plans, they could have signed him to a deal the following summer. Casspi’s contract does not hold any advantages to Hickson’s in terms of long-term viability.

The Cavs Will Be Rooting for the Kings

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    The bad fortunes of the Clippers benefited the Cavs in the 2011 Draft, and they’ll look positively towards a Kings’ playoff berth in order to gain the advantage in this trade. 

    Byron Scott will have an easier time dispersing minutes at the power forward position, possibly starting Antawn Jamison, with Tristan Thompson coming off the bench.

    Casspi can step in at the small forward position, and at 22, has the potential to stay in the Cavs’ lineup if increased minutes equates to improved results.