Thursday, February 23, 2006

Trading day

Three o'clock this afternoon is the NBA trading deadline. So far, the biggest move was an utterly inconsequential one between two losing teams, as the Magic shipped Steve Francis to the Knicks for Penny Hardaway and Trevor Ariza.
The only items even remotely interesting about that trade are Hardaway's return to Orlando, where he helped lead the Magic to the 1995 NBA Finals, and how Francis and Stephon Marbury -- two notoriously mercurial players -- will get along in the New York fishbowl.
Beyond that, the rumor mill has churned out all kinds of names, most of whom are just padding for newspaper notes columns. Kenyon Martin, Allen Iverson, Jermaine O'Neal and Kevin Garnett are among the most prolific.
Denver's Martin is the most likely of the above to be dealt by 3 p.m., but he carries a massive contract and matching injury history that should make every smart GM run screaming in the other direction.

On the Cavaliers' front, both The Plain Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal reported today that a move is not likely. The Cavs simply have no tradeable pieces. Every one of their players are either too expensive (Eric Snow, Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall), would create a bigger hole by being traded (Drew Gooden, Sasha Pavlovic, Anderson Varejao), are on the injured list (Larry Hughes, Ira Newble, Luke Jackson) or are on the do-not-touch-under-pain-of-death list (LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas).
Gooden is the most-mentioned player in Cavs trade rumors, but GM Danny Ferry has given Gooden assurance that he is not being shopped. After watching Gooden play the past several weeks, I'd have to say that's a good move. Unlike last season, when Gooden was known for his inconsistency more than anything, he brings energy to the floor just about every night this season. He is Cleveland's best rebounder, best low-post defender, and has shown an adept shooting touch that makes him a solid third or fourth option at the offensive end.
In short, there are almost no realistic trade scenarios involving Gooden that the Cavs would get the better of, especially as they are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Sure, Gooden is a restricted free agent this summer, and with contract extensions to LeBron and Varejao on the horizon, it is possible Gooden will leave for more money elsewhere. But right now, rocking the boat by trading Gooden could be sabotage come springtime.
With Gooden under lock and key, that leaves next to nothing for Ferry to deal with. The Cavs are already tapped out with regard to trading draft picks. They are obligated to keep this summer's first-rounder since their 2007 first-rounder was shipped to Boston for Jiri Welsch a year ago.
About the only scenario remaining is if Ferry could pawn off Jackson for a backup point guard like Keyon Dooling of Orlando. Jackson has a broken wrist, but could return before the end of the season. But that would still be a difficult sell.

Less than three hours remaining. If the Cavs make a move, I'll update ASAP.

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