Thursday, February 28, 2008

Larry "Smush" Hughes

Like Rakesh, I've been waiting some time to comment on the effect of the recent trades, both the Pau Gasol trade and the Ben Wallace era in Cleveland. At least for the Lakers, I wasn't waiting to see how the team would play for its first game. I've watched almost every game in the new Pau Gasol era, and it's been enthralling - more on that in a later post.

A few quick thoughts on the Cavs trade - I don't love it, but I don't hate it. I think it makes the Cavs marginally better, but it also costs them quite a bit of money. It's essentially a swap of untradeable contracts, but I like the pickup of Delonte West. I imagine Danny Ferry and John Paxon were both ecstatic that anyone would take Larry Hughes/Ben Wallace, and failed to realize they had to take the other crappy overpaid player. But I still bet they had huge grins on their faces after the call was made.

Chicago is a mess. They are the poster child for a franchise overvaluing its own players. Last year, when KG was on the market, one of my friends who's an avid Warriors fan told me that there was no way he would trade Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins for KG - that would be too much. Sports Guy ran an email from a Blazers fan that they wouldn't move LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Fernandez for anyone less than LeBron. Someone needs to tell Paxon that Luol Deng, Ty Thomas, or Chris Duhon aren't that good. Ben Gordon is more valuable to the Bulls than to any other team. Maybe he can get something for Thabo Sefalosha...

What the Cavs trade really highlighted is how much Cavs fans hated Larry Hughes. I never realized this before, but he was to Cavs fans what Smush Parker was to Lakers fans. In fact, the fan site, provided pretty much the best sports comedy since watching Smush trying to guard any screen-roll. The irrationally euphoric response - "HOLY SHIT someone took LARRY???" - was pretty similar to what I would have felt last year if we had traded Smush Parker for a ham sandwich. At least the sandwich would have a chance of slowing down an opposing point guard.

I also didn't realize how Cavs fans felt about Drew Gooden. To an outsider like me, he seemed like a reasonably-paid, above average power forward - nothing special, but a relative bargain and a solid supporting player. To Cavs fans, who got to see his brain farts and low basketball IQ on a nightly basis, he is apparently more like Kwame Brown with better hands.

In any case, it's too early to judge the new-look Cavs. They've gotten bigger and stronger, but haven't really transformed the identity of their team. Seems to me that they are still one or two moves away from true contention, though in the East, anything goes.

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