The trading deadline came and went, and the Cavaliers refused to budge. They talked to several teams about several players. In the end, there just wasn't a match. What blows my mind is what I am seeing from Cavaliers fans. Head on over to any Cavalier's message board and you will see things like, "Ferry Blew It" and "There goes our championship". Ummm, What?
The Cavaliers are 41-11. When healthy, and by healthy I mean with their original starting 5 on the floor, they are 24-4 this season. That becomes important because Delonte West may return aas early as tonight and Ben Wallace will only miss one more game with the stitches in his arm. That means team could be back to 100% as early as Sunday Night against the Pistons. Personally, and I wrote this earlier in the week, I preferred the Cavaliers stand pat unless they were given an offer they couldn't refuse. In the end, they weren't.
That doesn't mean that the Cavaliers have little hope of adding to their front court depth, however. With several teams carrying players they just acquired yesterday taking room on the roster there is going to be a flurry of buyouts the next several days. Names like Joe Smith, Mikki Moore and even good friend Drew Gooden could become unrestricted free agents in a matter of days. As long as these players are added to the roster by March 1st, they can be part of the playoff roster. Could the Cavaliers be interested in any of these guys?
John Hollinger of ESPN.com talks about some of the players that may become available over the next week --
Among the players most likely to be both available and desirable, here's a top 11 of sorts:
Joe Smith: The most notable of the potential free agents is Oklahoma City's veteran forward, back on the Thunder after Tuesday's deal for the Hornets' Tyson Chandler fell apart. Rumors of Smith's going to Boston have been rife all season, and it's highly likely he'll reach a buyout agreement with the Thunder if he's still on their roster this Friday.
Mikki Moore: Of course, the Celtics might not have room for Smith if their rumored interest in Moore is legitimate. Sacramento bought him out on Thursday -- he had only $2 million guaranteed next season if he was waived by draft day -- and rumor has it that there could be a bidding war among contenders that have remnants of their midlevel exceptions left. That sounds bizarre to me -- Moore has been well south of average the past two years and at 33 doesn't seem primed for a renaissance -- but it shows you the desperation for veteran frontcourt talent.
Drew Gooden, Sacramento: The Kings would gladly take a discount to buy him out. Which makes you wonder if Cleveland would want him back to shore up its frontcourt -- they're familiar with him, after all, for better or worse. The only sticking point here is Gooden's groin injury, which might keep him shelved too long for contenders to be interested.
Chris Mihm, Memphis: Here today after a trade from the Lakers, and possibly gone tomorrow. It sure seems to me somebody could use a 7-foot big man with a soft shooting touch for the playoffs, even if Mihm has hardly played the past three years.
Rasho Nesterovic, Indiana: Another 7-footer who can make shots and has a championship ring; he's familiar with San Antonio's system from his time down there and would make a nice addition to the size-starved Spurs for their playoff run.
Bobby Jackson, Sacramento: A veteran guard familiar with the playoff wars from his previous tour of duty with the Kings, Jackson could answer Boston's need for scoring off the bench while Tony Allen is on the shelf.
Jason Collins, Minnesota: He doesn't score, he doesn't rebound; heck, he barely even moves. But you have to think some Western GMs have noticed how well he's defended Shaquille O'Neal in the past, and how useful that might be in a playoff series against Phoenix.
Sam Cassell, free agent: Already released by Sacramento, he's now free to pursue any deal that suits him. I'm guessing Boston is off the list, but perhaps the Hornets could find enough loose change in their wallets to take a look at him.
Jerry Stackhouse, Dallas: Unlike the others on this list, he's already on a playoff contender. But he hasn't played for the Mavs since the second week of the season and has only $2 million guaranteed for next year. Any buyout savings would effectively double for the Mavs since they're well over the luxury-tax line, giving them extra incentive to make a deal. However, word has it that Stack is going nowhere.
Chucky Atkins, Oklahoma City: Another player with only a partial guarantee for next year, Atkins is a misfit in the Thunder's youth movement. Given the demand for veteran point guards to fill out rosters at this time of year, Atkins could find himself beating away suitors should he be released.
Jason Williams, L.A. Clippers: Technically retired, word is that he filed for reinstatement with the league today. If so, the Clippers would likely reach a buyout agreement with him that could allow him to return to the Miami Heat, who are in search of a veteran backup point guard to help out Mario Chalmers.
Could the Cavaliers take a flyer on any of those names, especially the 'bigs' on the list?