Suns get Shaquille – Lakers get Gasol – What about Cavs?

 LeBron James was in Shaq shock.

Like nearly everyone else, Cleveland’s megastar was floored by Shaquille O’Neal’s trade to Phoenix.

“Unbelievable,” James said after practice Wednesday. “That’s all I got. It’s unbelievable.”

O’Neal, one of the league’s top centers for more than a decade, was traded by Miami to the Suns for forward Shawn Marion and guard Marcus Banks, a blockbuster deal that rocked the league like one of Shaq’s backboard-bending dunks.

It was the second jaw-dropping swap involving All-Star players in days. Last week, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired 7-foot center Pau Gasol from Memphis, a trade that may have forced the Suns into retooling their team in order to stay ahead of their nearest competitor in the Pacific Division.

For James and the Cavaliers, Shaq’s departure from the Eastern Conference is a plus. They’ll only have to face him twice in the regular season, and won’t have to worry about him until the finals, assuming, that is, they ever get back there.

“It’s always good to see guys like that leave the East,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “But the reality of it is if you expect to win it, you’re going to have to play somebody like him or Gasol or [Tim] Duncan eventually.”

But the Shaq-to-the-Suns trade also raised another issue in Cleveland: When will the Cavaliers make their own super swap?

James recently said he would love for general manager Danny Ferry to make a run at New Jersey point guard Jason Kidd, who has made it no secret that he wants the Nets to dish him off before the Feb. 21 trading deadline.

When James was asked if being paired with Kidd, his teammate last summer on the U.S. national team, could win the Cavs their first championship, Cleveland’s superstar delivered an answer as resounding as any of his powerful slam dunks.

“Yeah,” James said. “It’s that easy.”

If that was only the case.

The Cavaliers have been active in talks on several major trades in the past two years, but Ferry has been unable to pull one off since taking over the club in 2005. He made a strong push for Sacramento’s Mike Bibby last year and may still be interested in adding him to Cleveland’s roster.

Ferry, though, has been hampered by a roster filled with unappealing contracts and few tradable assets.

But getting a major deal done involving All-Stars isn’t an impossibility as the Gasol and O’Neal deals have shown. Whether they work out, well, that remains to be seen.

The Cavaliers would like to add another star player to complement James, who’s having an MVP-caliber season. Larry Hughes hasn’t been what Cleveland had hoped since Ferry signed the oft-injured shooting guard to a five-year, $60 million contract before the ’05 season.

James was asked if it’s necessary for a team to have multiple stars to win an NBA title.

“It helps,” he said with a laugh. “It does help when you have guys on the team that are perennial All-Stars or can go out there and produce every night and you know what you’re going to get.”

Reminded that Kidd was still available, James grinned.

“I know that,” he said.

James, too, knows that adding another big player can lead to problems.

“It can mess up the chemistry a little bit and it could take a little longer for them to fit in, maybe not,” he said. “The reward is you get a good player. Like the Lakers, they got a guy [Gasol] who has averaged 20 [points] and 12 [rebounds] for his whole career. Last night, Kobe Bryant gets six points and the Lakers win by 15, that’s the reward.

“It all depends on what caliber of player you are getting and how fast he can adjust to the new system.”

If the Cavaliers stand pat and don’t make a trade, James is confident the defending Eastern Conference champs are still good enough to win it all.

“As long as I’m healthy, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win,” he said. “No matter who is out on the court with me.”

Source:  ESPN

Cavs top Boston

LeBron, Z, Larry, Boobie and Ira all had solid games as the Cavaliers defeated the Celtics 114 to 113 Tuesday night at the Q.  Gibson’s late steal, followed by his tenacity under the basket that led to a key rebound helped seal the deal.

NBA Boxscore

Local Media Reaction

Cavs find ways to win

 Gibson’s key plays leads Cavs over Celtics

National Media Reaction

James helps Cavs down Celtics

Gibson named to All-Star Weekend

Cavaliers guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson today was named one of the contestants for the NBA’s Three-Point Shootout during All-Star weekend in New Orleans.
The event is scheduled for Feb. 16. Gibson will also particpate in the Sophomore-Rookie challenge game during All-Star weekend.

Are you kidding me? Shaq to the Suns?

ESPN reported this morning that the Miami Heat have already agreed to send O’Neal to the Suns in exchange for All-Star forward Shawn Marion and guard Marcus Banks.

Miami is simply waiting for Phoenix management to complete a medical examination of O’Neal.

Ric Bucher reported Tuesday night on SportsCenter that O’Neal is scheduled to arrive in Phoenix on Wednesday to undergo a physical.

O’Neal is 35 and he is having his worst season with the Heat only 9-37.
“He is eager to leave Miami and his deteriorating relationship with Heat coach Pat Riley.”

With his age and all the injuries he suffered the past few seasons, it will be interesting to see if he can keep up in the Suns’ high-octane system.

“Making a move for O’Neal appears on the surface to make little basketball or financial sense for the Suns. O’Neal’s arrival in Phoenix would undoubtedly prompt widespread skepticism about his ability to keep up in the Suns’ high-octane system. The two years and $40 million remaining on O’Neal’s contract after this season also clashes with the Suns’ recent pattern of trading away players (such as Kurt Thomas) and draft picks in attempt to reduce payroll and eventually drag themselves away from the NBA luxury-tax line of $67.875 million.”

Does this trade make any sense to you? What do you think?

Ferry Interested in Mike Miller

According to Brian Windhorst, the Cavaliers are interested in Grizzlies shooting guard Mike Miller.

The Grizzlies are looking into clearing cap space and the Cavaliers could put together a package the could help with that.

The Grizzlies showed interest in Sasha Pavlovic last fall. He became eligible to be traded last Thursday.

Ira Newble at $3.4 million is the largest expiring contract the Cavaliers could offer along with Shannon Brown at $1.04 million.

Cavaliers Beat Clippers (98-84)

Lebron James decided to play after missing Thursday’s game against the Seattle SuperSonics because of a right ankle sprain.

James tested the ankle before tipoff and decided to play about 45 minutes before the game.
“I knew I could go out there and give my best effort,” James said. “I’m not as strong as I want to be right now, but I knew I could play well. My ankle’s been better, but it didn’t get worse, and that’s a good thing.”

The Cavaliers played with only 11 active players and played only 7 because of injuries to Anderson Varejao (sprained left ankle) and Sasha Pavlovic (sprained left foot)

The Clippers played without  forward Corey Maggette and center Chris Kaman, both missed the game with the flu.

Elton Brand is out for the season because of an Achilles’ tear.

Shaun Livingston, the Clippers point guard was out with a knee injury.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas picked up his 21st double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

Drew Gooden had his 16th double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Lebron led the Cavaliers with 28 points, 11 boards, and 8 assists.

The Cavaliers have won four straight and six of the last seven against the Clippers.

NBA Recap | Box Score 

Local Media Coverage:

LeBron’s return gets Cavs back on track (Akron Beacon Journal)
LeBron James returns to lead Cleveland Cavaliers to NBA victory over Los Angeles Clippers (The Plain Dealer)

National Media Coverage: 

Clippers come up short again (Los Angeles Times)

Mike Brown and Lebron James Captured Eastern Conference Awards

Mike Brown and Lebron James were named the Eastern Conference Coach and Player of the Month, respectively.

This is the first time Mike Brown earned the award. Mike Fratello was the last Cavs head coach to receive the award.

The other winners were:
– Fratello in December 1994.
– Lenny Wilkens on three occasions (February 1993, December 1988 and April 1988).
– George Karl (February 1985).

In the month of January, the Cavaliers led the Eastern Conference with 11-3 record including six roads games. Cleveland also led the NBA in rebounding.

In January, Lebron James led the NBA in points per game (32.8), including eight games of over 30 points.