Thursday, February 19, 2009

As the deadline turns...

All seems quiet on the Cavaliers’ trade front as we approach today’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline. Numerous national reports have stated that Danny Ferry is cooking the phones at various levels of urgency to get ‘er done. (Edit at 2:40 EST..the Cavs are in talks with Phoenix for Shaq! Ben and Pavlovic for the big man is the offer. Doesn't look likely at this point...Brian Windhorst of the Plain Dealer has the Suns asking for Wally and Sasha and the Cavs possibly trying to include a third team in the mix.) My question is: Are the Cavs legitimate championship contenders even if Ferry is unable to pull off a deal?

My answer is: Yes, with the disclaimer that getting another piece would lessen the task’s degree of difficulty.

In any contending season there’s always the feeling that you want your team to do something at the trade deadline. John Hart was never able to get that front-line pitcher during the Tribe’s 90s heyday. He did pick up Kevin Seitzer for Jeromy Burnitz…while that was pretty awesome Seitzer was not quite the player the Indians needed to win that elusive World Series championship.

Are the Cavs, like the Tribe teams of the past, missing that one significant ingredient that could prevent them from winning a ring? I’d say the answer is “no.” If they have one deficiency I suppose it’s in the frontcourt. There were some A-list names connected to the Cavs’ over the last few days…Stoudemire, Jamison…fans see those names and their eyes light up.

Those same fans see an older Z, an achy Wallace, and an unpredictable Andy and quail in mortal terror that those three will not be good enough to beat the Lakers or Celtics. The home loss against the Lakers freaked people out…LA was without Bynum and their big men still ate us up inside, nervous fans point out. “We can’t waste Wally’s $13M magic bullet!! Let’s get Shaq!!” they cry.

I admit the LA game was an eye-opener. Lamar Odom was grabbing offensive boards all over the place and simply popping them back in the hoop. Z and Co. could not handle Pau Gasol’s inside game, either. But one game against a possible Finals opponent doesn’t necessarily mean grabbing the biggest, most expensive “name” you can find. Hell, the Cavs were 2-0 against San Antonio in the 2007 regular season. That didn’t mean much come June.

I’m all for “winning now:” Just tell me what trade scenario gives us the most realistic chance of doing so without blowing up the roster or sacrificing chemistry. We’re not going to trade half the team for Chris Bosh, and it looks like Phoenix is going to hang on to Stoudemire. Same with the Wizards and Jamison, although Washington’s stance doesn’t seem as concrete as the Suns. Marcus Camby interests me – a “character” guy who can defend and rebound and would not make waves about getting minutes. However, the Clips don’t seem interested in dealing him, either.

That leaves us with the likely scenario of the current roster staying intact. That is not a horrible thing. Delonte West, our best one-on-one defender and another guy who spreads the floor for the offense, will be back in the next week. This squad just needs to get back to the defensive intensity that saw them murdering teams at the beginning of the season. Another big man would help (Joe Smith buyout, anyone?), but the Cavs don’t necessarily need one to win a title.