Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rashard Lewis

OK, so I lied--I'm writing another post about the Cavaliers' offseason.

Brian Windhorst, who reported yesterday on his desire to see Shawn Marion in Cleveland, reports today this interesting tidbit from Peter Vescey:

"New York Post rumor man Peter Vecsey has been saying the Cavs may go after Rashard Lewis. It would take a sign-and-trade with the Seattle Sonics. I will not rule anything out, because as I said before, expect the Cavs to be aggressive in trying to get offensive talent this summer."

You can read Brian's full post here.

Count me as a qualified fan of this move. I'd definitely prefer to get Marion (and unless they ship him elsewhere, Phoenix, who is looking to cut payroll, would get a good package from the Cavs in Newble's and Wesley's expiring deals, in addition to Drew Gooden, whom they reportedly like). Marion is a outstanding scorer and can actually play the type of defense Brown would be excited about--plus, he's one of the few guys out there who would be able to share the court with LeBron. Henry Abbott of TrueHoop agrees, writing: "I think that if you can add Marion to the mix without losing anything major, you just do it. He's one of the only elite scorers and rebounders who can also play Mike Brown D. The position thing doesn't really matter. On O, he'll complement James fine. On D, he can guard just about anyone. The only way I wouldn't do it is if it somehow prevented you from getting a killer point."

Rashard Lewis is not as great of a defender, but he's a really good shooter. More importantly, he's an outside-in player--he's a shooter first, and a slasher second. He's also a pretty reliable low post scorer, though he can get banged around a bit down there. That's the type of player who's a perfect complement to LeBron, who's the opposite (this is also the reason why Larry Hughes has been so miserable in Cleveland--because he's a slasher first and a shooter second, like LeBron). He'd instantly make the Cavs offense more explosive. At 6'10" and 215 lbs, he's a matchup nightmare. Mike Brown could coach Lewis to play even better defense, which would be phenomenal.

Plus, this trade makes more sense for Seattle than the Marion trade makes for Phoenix. With the Sonics likely getting Kevin Durant in a few weeks, they don't need another long swingman with a sweet outside shot. What they need is cap room to find complementary players to Durant, and some rebounders. Newble's and Wesley's contracts give them the former, and Drew Gooden gives them the latter. He's a good athlete, a solid rebounder, and a decent enough post player on offense. Trot him out next to the promising Robert Swift with Durant and Allen and Seattle looks like a better team too.

With both of these players, LeBron would have to alter his game slightly. He'd have to emphasize his post game more (which I think would be a good idea) because there wouldn't be as much room on the perimeter. In theory, Lewis could also play the post, but LeBron's strength (in my opinion) gives him the advantage down there over Lewis' height. Still, Lewis could play the post on some possessions when LeBron wanted to occupy the wing. And when LeBron did get down low, he could use his passing skills to find open shooters. It'd be win-win for him.

The other thing is, we would still need a point guard. But we'd have a bit more money to do so, since we wouldn't be re-signing Sasha Pavlovic in this situation. Also, it looks like the Cavs may be looking for alternatives to Varejao already in the Wizards' Andray Blatche and others, so we won't have to spend big money on them either. I'd like to see us swing a trade either now or at the deadline (when we have Eric Snow's and Donyell Marshall's expiring contracts to offer) for Jose Calderon, who would be a great fit in Cleveland. In the meantime, maybe we sign Steve Blake to hold the reins or continue to work on Daniel Gibson.

Final thought: Imagine a Cavs starting lineup of Calderon/Blake, Gibson (though we'd probably have to start Larry Hughes until we can get rid of him for monetary reasons), Rashard Lewis, LeBron James, and Ilgauskas. It's still a slightly inconsistent team in the sense that you have one plodder and five athletes. But honestly, that team is damn exciting to watch: Z and LeBron working on the block with Lewis, Blake, and Gibson outside for three-point support; LeBron, Gibson, and Lewis running the most explosive fast break Cleveland has ever seen. Finally, we'd have an offense to write home about. And once Hughes and Ilgauskas come off the books (in the summer of 2010) we'd still have a 24-year-old Gibson, a 30-year-old Lewis, and a 26-year-old LeBron. That's still a great core--two young stars in James and Gibson and a slightly older, yet still effective small forward. Plus, we can swing those two huge expiring contracts for yet another solid player (or two) at the 2009 trading deadline to continue a (hopeful) streak of dominance in the East.

OK, now I'm getting really excited. Hopefully Danny Ferry can make one of these trades happen. He reportedly has good rapport with Sam Presti and Steve Kerr, and both teams are looking to dump salary. Maybe we'll finally have a good second option in Cleveland . . .

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