As we quickly approach the NBA trade deadline, the Cavaliers are in prime position to make the playoffs. They took down the mighty Celtics last night in Cleveland. This is the second time that the Cavaliers have beaten the Celts, although this is the first time they played them with Kevin Garnett being out injured. They are currently second place in their division behind Detroit, and fourth in the east behind Orlando. The Cavaliers have had their own injury problems up to this point and just like last year the rumors are swirling for the Cavs to pick up some help. And just like last year, most of the rumors are flying about point guards. At first I was thinking that way too, but the more I think about it, I think the Cavs should go a different direction.
Sure, the Cavs still don’t have a bona fide point guard on their team. Boobie Gibson plays more of a gunning three point shooter. Larry Hughes is a slasher who can play a bit of point guard, but he is certainly not your prototypical PG. On top of that LeBron plays point-forward a good portion of the game. In that sense, the Cavs’ game isn’t really broken. They get the ball up the floor and get into whatever “offense” Mike Brown has drawn up and everything is fine. So, instead of overpaying for one of the available point guards, the Cavs should just look to add the highest quality player with the least amount of risk. In this case, that player would be Ron Artest.
Ron Artest isn’t without his history. We all know that he was involved in the worst fight in the history of the NBA, this side of Kermit Washington. He has had more than his share of off-the-court problems to be sure. That being said, Artest has kept a pretty low profile the last couple of years. On top of that, his on-court production hasn’t faltered. Artest is a defensive-minded player that consistently puts between 18 and 20 points on the board. He rebounds well, passes well and plays some kind of a hybrid between the small forward and a power forward. He would fit in perfectly on this Cavaliers team.
He comes to a team with an established culture and an undeniable superstar in LeBron James. There is no secret about who runs this team. He comes to a team that stresses defense first. That won’t be a problem for Artest who is known in Cleveland as one of the guys who used to work extra hard to shut down LeBron when his Pacers teams played Cleveland. On top of that, Artest would provide a minimum exposure risk to the Cavs as he has stated he will opt out of his contract following this season. That means that if “renting” Artest for half a season doesn’t work out, the Cavaliers can wave goodbye after this season. This would be a wonderful contrast to guys like Eric Snow and Damon Jones that are eating up the Cavs’ cap.
So, how do you get the Kings to agree to give up Ron Artest? Using ESPN’s handy Trade Machine, I found a workable deal. The Cavaliers would trade Drew Gooden and former first round pick Shannon Brown for Ron Artest. Artest makes about$7.4 million this season. Gooden makes just over $6.4 million and Shannon Brown makes just over $1 million on his rookie contract. This is Shannon Brown’s last year and Gooden will have one more year after this current season. The Kings stand to gain nothing from Ron Artest opting out of his deal at the end of the season and right now the Kings are a good 6 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Kings get a solid power forward in Drew Gooden and they get a chance to try out a former first rounder that hasn’t found a niche in Cleveland’s slow-paced offense in the East.
If this isn’t enough then maybe the Cavs can throw in a second round draft pick to make the deal work. Anyway, I like the idea of adding a player like Artest to the mix. It would help the Cavs a lot to have another solid defender and decent scorer in the rotation and as soon as Varejao gets back, they won’t miss Gooden all that much.