Monday brought us a pair of moves that characterize two Cleveland teams at the opposite ends of the "got their shit together" spectrum.
In the morning, the Cavaliers formally announced they had reached an agreement with Drew Gooden on a three-year, $23 million contract. In the afternoon, the Browns announced that they had pawned oft-injured running back Lee Suggs off on the Jets for cornerback Derrick Strait, a career backup to this point.
So much for Suggs being the trump card that could land them Hank Fraley or another center with starting experience.
The Cavs re-signed a valuable piece of their starting lineup for far less than he originally wanted, preserving long-term financial flexibility while ensuring that the team doesn't take a step backward in the short term.
In a nutshell, Cavs GM Danny Ferry played the waiting game perfectly. While us fans got impatient and wondered if Ferry was asleep at the switch, in reality he knew he didn't have to do anything. He knew the market wasn't going to hold the six-year, $60 million contract Gooden was seeking after Nene received that head-smacking amount from the Nuggets.
Ferry knew that he simply had to let enough time pass, let training camp creep ever closer, and sooner or later, Gooden would get antsy enough to make a move. The result is a very club-friendly contract that allows the Cavs to stay remarkably flexible for a team that is going to be bumping into the salary cap every year into the foreseeable future.
For a player who is supremely talented yet maddeningly inconsistent, Ferry piloted negotiations to a conclusion fitting Gooden's resume. He gets paid handsomely in the near future, but will have to work to prove he is worthy of the big bucks and big years he was seeking this summer.
Gooden may be jealous of the money Nene received. But in three years, when the Cavs are limber enough to talk turkey with LeBron James about a long-term deal, and the Nuggets are collapsing under the weight of Nene's deal and stressing their relationship with Carmelo Anthony, the Cavs will be the envy of the Nuggets.
The Browns, meanwhile, are struggling to rub two sticks together so they can cook a rabbit for dinner.
Suggs could have been the piece that landed Fraley or another center who could at least serve as a plausible stopgap for this season. Instead, cornerbacks Gary Baxter and Daylon McCutcheon might be out for months with injuries, plunging the cornerback position into an even deeper abyss than center. The Browns were a Leigh Bodden groin strain away from possibly needing Josh Cribbs or Frisman Jackson to play both ways. So enter the Suggs-for-Strait deal.
This deal is a direct descendent of the Ray Mickens deal a year ago, also with the Jets. Same position, same team, same hole-plugging reason for the same two injured players.
This time, however, the cost is far more. The cost might be a reliable center.
No matter how often Suggs was injured, he always seemed to be able to sell his potential. You could argue that it was in the Browns' best interest to deal Suggs before he could get hurt again, but for the first time since being drafted, Suggs was having a productive, injury-free training camp. While all that was looking up, all Mr. Potential could net the Browns was a backup corner?
I can't help but wonder if the Browns just used their biggest piece of trade ammo to bomb a landfill. This has "Brandon Phillips to the Reds" written all over it.
It's not all the fault of GM Phil Savage. Unlike Ferry in the Gooden negotiations, Savage wasn't dealing from a position of strength. Injuries have kicked the Browns in the teeth, and Savage is obligated to shore up the team where injuries have left the roster dangerously thin.
But it's still not pretty to watch a half-desperate team throw trades around to save the dam before it breaks. Unfortunately for the Browns, the dam always seems to have fatal fissures running through it.
Due in large part to a pair of tremendous gifts left by the previous management regime -- LeBron and $28 million in cap space last summer -- Ferry has been able to be an architect, constructing what appears to be a team built to win over the long haul. Due in large part to creepy injuries and a load of garbage left behind by the previous management regime, Savage has to be something far more basic: a maintenance man.