With talks apparently heating up about a possible trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns, it might be an idea to explore what this trade does for both parties. The trade proposal floating around is Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson for Amare Stoudemire. So what does the deal mean for both teams?
They get a young big man in the form of J.J. Hickson to grow within the Suns system, play pick and roll basketball with Steve Nash and take a lot of shots around the basket. You have to believe that Hickson’s agent is pushing for this trade because it would mean that he gets more playing time, which means more points, more rebounds and more money down the road. If you’re a fan of Entourage like I am, you can clearly imagine Hickson’s agent acting like Ari Gold and telling people to keep it moving and make sure the deal goes down.
As it pertains to Ilgauskas, he would only be part of the deal to make the salaries work and to give the Suns cap relief at the end of the year. The fear that Phoenix had was that Stoudemire was going to pick up his player option at the end of the season which meant he would be on the team again next season for the modest amount of $17, 7 million. Instead, The Suns would rather have the cap room to perhaps lure in a high quality free agent.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Amare Stoudemire is a gifted offensive player. He is a legit big man with great hands, great athleticism, and he finishes with authority around the basket. The concerns that Cavs fans have is his allergy to defense. Time and time again we saw him in Phoenix either be late on rotations or just fail to rotate altogether. Also, his strength, speed and athleticism should make him one of the best rebounders in the league; and yet his highest rebounding season was during the 2006-2007 campaign where he averaged was 9.6 rebounds per game. Why would a great defensive team want to add him to their roster?
Well for one, Stoudemire’s production this season (21.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 55.5 FG%) actually surpasses the combined production of Ilgauskas (7.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 45.2 FG%) and Hickson (7.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 55.3 FG%). So imagine putting LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire in a pick and roll; shouldn’t that terrify the rest of the league? Think about it, here are the leagues five best finishers in my opinion:
1. LeBron James
2. Dwight Howard
3. Amare Stoudemire
4. Dwyane Wade
5. Carlos Boozer
Basically, if the Cavs acquire Stoudemire, they will have two of the best finishers in the NBA on the same team. Can you say And One’s ?
The second reason I see the Cavs making this trade is that they believe Stoudemire has the tools required to play good defense; he just hasn’t been willing to do it in Phoenix because no one held him accountable for it. Mike Brown is the guy that hasn’t been afraid to bench Shaquille O’Neal in the fourth quarter of games, so getting his message across with Stoudemire shouldn’t be too difficult. Stoudemire should flourish as a defensive player in Cleveland.
Like every good album, this one comes with a bonus track. Ultimately, if consumed, this trade would be made with the idea that the Cleveland can not only win the East, but also compete with the Lakers. In recent years, Cleveland has struggled to get consistent scoring from their big men against the purple and gold because of the twin towers combo of Gasol and Bynum. But look at what Stoudemire has done against the Lakers ever since Gasol went to L.A..
Stoudemire vs. Lakers: 19.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 0.8 APG, 1.5 BPG, 47.2 FG%
That might not be a great line, but it’s still a very good line, especially against the defending champions. Keep in mind, this trade has not happened yet but it is in the works. If it does happen however, the Cavs will have one of the best frontlines in the NBA.
All season, Lakers fans have been singing the D-Generation X song:
“Are you ready?
Yeah you think you can tell us what to do?
You think you can tell us what to do?
Well you better get ready
To bow down to the masters
Break it down!”
Well just like the WWE, it would seem as though the script might just change a little….