Monday, January 16, 2006

Tough stuff

This is the cruel-hand-of-fate stuff you'd expect to be dealt a Cleveland team.
The Cavaliers have lost Larry Hughes at the most inopportune time, and they are feeling the pain now. After tonight's 89-87 loss to the Blazers, they have lost a season-high four in a row, all by less than 10 points. They are now 0-3 halfway through their Western Conference jaunt.
The diagnosis of this losing streak is both comforting and discouraging.
The Cavs have been in the thick of every game they have lost since the start of the calendar year. All have been winnable. But the loss of Hughes is proving to be enough of a dent to make the difference between winning and losing.
That's why the Cavs will wake up today with a 20-15 record instead of a 23-12 record.
I am becoming more and more concerned that GM Danny Ferry will have his hand forced into making a trade for another scorer before next month's trading deadline. The signing of Damon Jones is proving to be more questionable with each missed three-pointer. As we all know, he can't defend all that well, doesn't possess extensive point guard skills, and has a tendency to abandon all other options in the name of getting his three-ball off. In a nutshelll, he's not a very good starter, at least in his Cleveland situation.
The net result is that the Cavs might have to sacrifice a young player with a manageable salary to take on a higher-priced veteran to plug the hole left by Hughes, so the Cavs aren't left sinking into oblivion like last spring.
In order to fill a short-term need, the price might be watching Luke Jackson mature into a star in another uniform.
It's a tough call for Ferry. Jeopardize this season and the all-important need to finally get LeBron James to the playoffs by standing pat and hoping for a swift recovery from Hughes, or deal off a potential-laden bench player for an expensive, short-term need.
Less than halfway through his first season as a GM, and Ferry already has a pivotal decision to make. The season -- and future -- might hang in the balance.

Papa Cass Poll: should the Cavs make a trade before the February trading deadline, or stand pat? If you were in Ferry's shoes, what moves would you make?

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