NBA Trades: Will Antawn Jamison Improve the Cavaliers or Cripple Them?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IFebruary 18, 2010

CLEVELAND - APRIL 21:  Antawn Jamison #4 of the Washington Wizards reacts while playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena April 21, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the game 116-86. 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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Looks like I spoke too soon. Just when I was ready to assume the NBA trade deadline would pass uneventfully, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled the trigger on the biggest move of the season thus far.

The implications of the deal which brought Jamison to the Cavaliers range far and wide, and although the move could pay huge dividends for Cleveland come the postseason, it also has the potential to have the reverse effect.

The positives around the deal center mostly on Jamison's explosive offensive capabilities, and as a legitimate scoring threat to play opposite star forward LeBron James.

Jamison is undeniably a proven scorer and his abilities extend from the paint to deep outside on the perimeter, a part of his game which was added after he made his way from the University of North Carolina to the NBA.

Jamison was primarily a power forward in high school and college and his time at the position combined with the speed of his initial jump makes him an underrated rebounder, something which should prove helpful, considering Cleveland got smaller with this deal.

It is true that the Cavaliers addressed a glaring need for a forward who has the skills to defend on the perimeter, but as one need was filled, another issue was potentially created.

One of the differences in the Cavaliers this year was their ability to field multiple seven footers in Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, an advantage which manifested in games against the Los Angeles Lakers, a potential NBA Finals opponent.

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The added length of the Cavaliers visibly bothered the Lakers' own big men, and in both games Cleveland was able to extend leads, or make runs when playing the two in tandem.

That dynamic was erased with the deal for Jamison and now the Cavaliers are forced to go forward with O'Neal as their only true center, and a slew of under-sized players as back ups.

Which brings me to another point. The trade will obviously mean an increase in minutes for O'Neal, and to this point he has not been asked to play more than 20-25 minutes per game.

Shaq has performed above expectations so far but his minutes on the court have been managed, and previously the Cavaliers had Ilglauskas to lean on when he was out.

Cleveland will likely not be troubled by this until the postseason, but the whole scope of the team changes when they are forced to play Andersen Varejao at center against the likes of Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, or Andrew Bynum.

The common perception among Cavalier faithful is Washington will waive Ilglauskas, and Cleveland will be able to re-claim him just in time for the playoffs, but what if that doesn't happen?

Jamison is the remedy for the ailments which afflicted the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals versus Orlando because he gives them a player to counter the length of Rashard Lewis, who torched Cleveland.

But should the Cavaliers reach the Finals and be paired with the Lakers, then they are at the mercy of an entirely different beast, which is capable of creating mis-matches all over the floor.

Jamison is a decent defender but it's not an area he excels in, and the one place where Cleveland improved noticeably against the Lakers was their play in the paint, a feature which no longer exists due to the recent trade.

At a glance the deal improves Cleveland because it gives them another All-Star to play with James, who lobbied hard on the behalf of Jamison, but what they lost in the deal may come back to haunt them when it matters most.

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