This deserves it's own thread...17.2 ppg and 6.3 apg is pretty gaudy. LeBron has GOT to be pleased. Is this the missing piece to the puzzle?
Cavs deal for point guard
Three-team trade brings Mo Williams from Bucks into fold
By Brian Windhorst
Beacon Journal sports writer
Published on Thursday, Aug 14, 2008
CLEVELAND: In 2002, the Cavaliers traded away one of the top point guards in the NBA in Andre Miller. In the six seasons since, they have been in a nearly constant, far-ranging search to find a true replacement.
No less than 15 players have started at point guard for the Cavs in the six seasons since, from Milt Palacio to Kevin Ollie to Mateen Cleaves. Darius Miles, Larry Hughes and even LeBron James tried it, playing out of position over the years.
Even as the Cavs surged from the worst in the league to the NBA Finals, the call to upgrade the ball handler and take some offensive pressure from James has been an ongoing issue.
Wednesday, Cavs General Manager Danny Ferry made the most ambitious move yet to fix the issue by executing a three-team trade that brought in Mo Williams from the Milwaukee Bucks. Williams has been one of the NBA's top-scoring point guards for the past several seasons and has become known for his ability to push the basketball and create his own shot.
To get the deal done, the Cavs sent veteran guard Damon Jones to the Bucks and veteran forward Joe Smith to the as-yet-unnamed Oklahoma City franchise. Oklahoma City sent point guard Luke Ridnour and swingman Adrian Griffin to the Bucks, and the Bucks traded forward Desmond Mason to Oklahoma City to complete the deal.
''We acquired a talented player about to hit his prime,'' Ferry said. ''He can set things up for himself as well as other people.''
Williams, 25, is about to enter his sixth NBA season. A second-round pick from Alabama, he has developed into a good ball handler who is an expert at breaking down defenses off the dribble and is very effective in the fast break.
He is coming off a season in which he averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 assists and shot a career-high 48 percent from the field. He's also a career 85 percent free-throw shooter.
The Cavs have gotten a firsthand look at his strengths. He averaged 26 points and nine assists in four games against them last season. Williams also has a strong relationship with
Cavs guard Daniel Gibson, who works out with him in the offseason and has used him as a mentor.
The trade answers James' call in May to upgrade the talent on the roster following the narrow second-round playoff series loss to the Boston Celtics.
''What we have is very good, but we need to continue to get better; we know that,'' James said at the time. ''If that means some personnel changes that need to happen, then so be it. The teams around us in the league are continuing to get better.''
Smith was a valuable reserve who came to the Cavs in February's 10-player trade, averaging 8.1 points and five rebounds. Jones, who averaged 6.5 points in 67 games, was out of the rotation at the end of last season and had requested a trade more than a year ago.
''It's bittersweet,'' Jones said Wednesday from Hopkins Airport on his way home to Houston. ''The only reason I wanted to be traded was because I didn't have a role here. They did the best thing for me.''
Both Jones and Smith were attractive, because they are entering the final seasons of their contracts. Smith is scheduled to make $4.8 million, and Jones is due $4.4 million. The Bucks were headed into the luxury tax next season and probably made the move to dump salary after trading for Richard Jefferson, who is on a maximum contract, and signing Andrew Bogut to a five-year, $60 million deal that kicks in next season. Oklahoma City is in the middle of a rebuilding project.
The Cavs are taking on a large financial commitment with Williams, who has five years and $43 million left on a contract he signed last summer, when the Cavs courted him. Already this season, they are facing a payroll of more than $80 million, further verifying owner Dan Gilbert's willingness to spend.
There are some questions about how well Williams will fit in. He is not known as a strong defensive player, which Cavs coach Mike Brown makes a priority. He is also known for taking ill-advised shots at times and getting out of the flow of the offense. The Cavs watched years of tape, going back to his rookie season with the Utah Jazz, watching his defense before making a decision.
''I believe he's capable of being a good defender, especially within our system and our culture,'' Ferry said. ''He's a complete player who can make big shots. I've liked him for quite a while.''
Bringing in Williams, though, might have a ripple effect on the contract stalemate with restricted free-agent point guard Delonte West, who was the incumbent starter. Facing the loss of a starting job and already far apart on salary demands with the Cavs, West may take a one-year qualifying offer of $2.76 million and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
If he takes that option, the Cavs could not trade him without his permission and would risk losing him for nothing in return.
But Ferry said the team still wants to re-sign West and believes Williams and West can play together on the court. West is the better defender of the two and has played shooting guard at various times in his career. West has been working out at the Cavs' facility in Independence during the offseason.
''This changes nothing on the Delonte front,'' Ferry said. ''We want him back and hope we can reach a common ground.''
Moving Smith leaves the Cavs a little thin in the frontcourt, but it could open up playing time for first-round draft pick J.J. Hickson, who impressed the team during summer league and last week at the Tim Grgurich big-man camp in Las Vegas, where several scouts said he held his own against numerous NBA veterans.
''This could allow an opportunity for J.J.,'' Ferry said. ''We like the foundation he's shown, but it doesn't mean we won't explore other opportunities.''
Brian Windhorst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Read his blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/cavs/