In one final blockbuster before the trade deadline, the Cavaliers, Bulls and SuperSonics completed an 11-player trade Thursday. The Cavs received Ben Wallace, Joe Smith and a second-round pick from the Bulls and Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West from the Sonics. The Bulls got Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown from the Cavs. The Sonics picked up Donyell Marshall and Ira Newble from the Cavs and Adrian Griffin from the Bulls.
Here's a closer look at the deal:
They didn't think they had enough to beat out the Celtics and Pistons in the East, and LeBron James was getting restless. General manager Danny Ferry already had whiffed on Jason Kidd and Mike Bibby. He needed to do something. Wallace is the big name in this deal, but Szczerbiak and Smith could turn out to be the real gems. Szczerbiak is a former All-Star and better outside shooter than Hughes or Sasha Pavlovic. Smith is an underrated big man who can defend and nail the jumper out to 18 feet. West is a decent combo guard in the Hughes mold. The Cavs are taking a bit of a financial risk with Wallace's big contract (two more years, $28.5 million), but they offset it somewhat by shedding Hughes' deal (two more years, $26.4 million). All in all, not a bad haul for Cleveland.
They wanted to cut their losses with Wallace and improve the chemistry in the locker room. Like Ferry, GM John Paxson also might have felt pressure to do something. That being said, the Bulls came out OK. Hughes and Gooden aren't going to turn around Chicago dramatically, but they are solid NBA starters. Gooden's ability to score in the low post should help an offense that relies too much on the jump shot. He also might help bring his pal and former Kansas teammate Kirk Hinrich out of his seasonlong funk. Hughes, meanwhile, gives the Bulls the big shooting guard they needed. The injury-prone Hughes does have a big contract, but it's still less than what Chicago would have had to pay Wallace.
They're dumping salary as they continue the rebuilding in preparation for a hoped-for franchise shift to Oklahoma City. Also, it probably didn't hurt that new GM Sam Presti has ties to Ferry from their days together in the Spurs' front office. (Seattle, incidentally, traded Kurt Thomas to San Antonio on Wednesday.) The Sonics had little use for Szczerbiak, who was due $13.3 million next season. Marshall and Griffin are on the books for roughly $8 million combined next season, while Newble is on the last year of his deal. The Sonics are cutting payroll and stockpiling draft picks so they can eventually surround Kevin Durant with the talent needed to get back to being a West contender.
The Cavs narrow the gap on the Celtics and Pistons, while making LeBron happy (at least for now). The Bulls probably still won't make the playoffs (unless the Nets and/or Hawks collapse). The Sonics might not win another game this season (but they're poised to move anyway).