Dissecting the Larry Hughes trade rumor

Larry Hughes to the Nets? It’s a possibility, according to NorthJersey.com.

The Nets and Bulls have discussed a deal that would bring veteran shooting guard Larry Hughes to New Jersey for Bobby Simmons and Maurice Ager, league sources said. Sean Williams was offered instead of Ager, but Chicago wasn’t interested.

Both sides are considering it, although the Bulls are talking to many teams about Hughes, who is signed through next season.

The Nets are weighing whether the deal makes them that much better and if it’s financially smart. The additional salary next season would be more than $3 million.

Every time I hear a trade rumor, I ask myself the following questions…

1. What is Team A (or B) trying to accomplish?
2. What are the salary cap ramifications?
3. Is this is a good idea?

Larry Hughes is one of the most overpaid players in the league. He has another year left on his deal at the tune of $13.6 million. This season, he is an average shooting guard (PER: 14.68) which is an improvement over his performance in the two previous seasons.

Since his contract expires in 2010, this trade wouldn’t affect the Nets’ ability to woo LeBron James or any other big-name free agent that summer, so the Nets are apparently trying to get better in the short term with this deal. Bobby Simmons hasn’t been the same player since his foot injuries he suffered with the Bucks, and since it looks like Hughes has a little left in the tank, it wouldn’t be a bad move for the Nets. He plays the same position as Vince Carter, but since the league is getting smaller, Carter could play a little small forward as well. It’s possible that the Nets are giving themselves a backup plan at off guard if they decide to trade Carter away.

For the Bulls, Hughes has been complaining about his lack of minutes and has been somewhat of a distraction. It would appear that the main benefit for Chicago would be to rid itself of that headache.

So, from that point of view, it looks like a good idea for both teams. The Nets get a little better, they don’t threaten their ability to sign a free agent in 2010 and they give themselves a backup at shooting guard if they trade Carter away. The Bulls rid themselves of a headache, create a happier locker room, and save a little money.

It seems like a fair trade to me.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Dan Gilbert still has head stuck in the sand

Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert had this to say about all of the LeBron-to-the-Knicks talk in recent days.

“This is not LeBron James saying this stuff, this is just a media phenomenon here that will pass in time,” Gilbert said while appearing on “CNBC Reports.”

“We’re focused on this year and you know what, so is he, and he’s focused on this year and next year and hopefully a long career in Cleveland, Ohio. We believe that and we think we have a great situation here and we’re off to a great start.”

There’s nothing wrong with the second part, but if Gilbert doesn’t think that his star player is fueling a lot of this speculation, then he better open his eyes.

In fact, Charles Barkley thinks that LeBron is saying too much.

“If I was LeBron James, I would shut the hell up,” Barkley said in the Wednesday interview. “I’m a big LeBron fan. He’s a stud. You gotta give him his props. I’m getting so annoyed he’s talking about what he’s going to do in two years. I think it’s disrespectful to the game. I think it’s disrespectful to the Cavaliers.”

LeBron responded like any fifth-grader would…

“He’s stupid. That’s all I’ve got to say about that,” James said Friday night before the Cavaliers’ game against Golden State.

But back to Gilbert, who two months ago said that the media was to blame for the LeBron speculation, which was an insult to the city of Cleveland.

I asked this question before and I’ll ask it again…

Which is a bigger insult to Cleveland — speculating about a possible LeBron departure or pretending that it won’t happen?

If Gilbert wants this talk to go away, he needs to rein in LeBron, who has given several interviews on the topic, saying that July 1st, 2010 “is going to be a big day.” Gilbert needs to get LeBron to tell the press that he’s not going to comment on his future and that he won’t field any questions about the summer of 2010.

The so-called “bored sportswriters” are going to keep speculating, but at least LeBron won’t be adding fuel to the fire.

Detroit now a possible landing spot for LeBron?

One of the by-products of the Billups-for-Iverson swap is that the Detroit Pistons will have a ton of cap space in the summer of 2010, when LeBron James and a number of high-profile free agents could potentially hit the free market. Henry Abbott of TrueHoop goes through the options.

Down the road the Pistons becomes the driving force of big-time free agency as soon as Iverson’s contract comes off the books next summer. The Pistons will combine a winning environment, one of the most respected general managers in the game, and — depending on salary cap levels that are yet to be set, and extensions that may yet be given to existing Pistons — likely enough cap space to sign two free agent players to max contracts over the next summers of 2009 and 2010.

Feast your eyes on this list of players who will be available. 2010 free agents include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Ray Allen, Tyson Chandler, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Joe Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Redd.

The two that jump out to me are, of course, Chris Bosh and LeBron James. They played together nicely on Team USA, and now Dumars can at least entertain the notion of signing not one of those two, but both.

A team that suspects one of those players might leave via free agency in 2010 might be compelled to realize some value for the player by dealing with a team under the cap like the Pistons in the summer of 2009. (The NBA’s rules about matching up salaries in trades only apply to teams that are over the salary cap. Once Iverson’s big contract is off the books next summer, the Pistons will be able to deal freely.)

Other than Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell, no other Piston is currently signed through 2011 (though the franchise is likely to exercise its option on Rodney Stuckey’s rookie contract). That puts Detroit’s payroll at an estimated $19 million for the 2010-11 season, which should give the team major salary cap flexibility during the summer of 2010.

Abbott thinks that the Pistons can turn this cap space into two premier players. Throw in Prince, Maxiell and Stuckey, and that’s a nice core.

Update: The Pistons signed Rip Hamilton to a three-year extension worth $34 million that would presumably keep him in Detroit through the 2013 season.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert takes the underrated “head in the sand” approach

Dan Gilbert doesn’t like the speculation that LeBron James is going to leave Cleveland when his contract is up in two years.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert says the speculation that LeBron James will leave Cleveland in two years is out of line and “an insult to the city.”

Gilbert says it’s nothing more than conjecture from bored sports reporters.

He says James has given no indication that he plans to leave for New York after his contract expires in 2010.

Okay, Mr. Gilbert, we “bored sports reporters” will just sit here and pretend that there isn’t a giant ticking clock on LeBron’s stay in Cleveland. I’m sure he’ll re-sign if, in two years, the Cavs are still a middle-of-the-road playoff team in the East, and there’s every indication that they will be.

Which is a bigger insult to Cleveland – speculating about a possible LeBron departure or pretending that it won’t happen?

Say goodbye to LeBron, Cleveland

Braylon Edwards speaketh the truth:

“LeBron (James) isn’t a Cleveland guy. LeBron only plays for the Cavaliers, and who knows if he even likes the Cavaliers? He doesn’t like the Indians. He doesn’t like the Browns.”

The Browns receiver made his comments after LeBron James hung out on the Dallas sidelines during pregame warmups prior to the Cowboys/Browns game Sunday afternoon, hugging Terrell Owens and Adam “Don’t Call Me Pacman” Jones, chatting with owner Jerry Jones, and wearing a Yankees cap.

Of course, it was a Yankees cap that first had people questioning LeBron’s loyalty to his hometown. As a (tortured) Cleveland fan, I was pretty fired up when LeBron wore a Yankees hat to Jacobs Field for the Indians’ opening playoff game against the Yanks last year:

Cleveland is most definitely a football city, but LeBron is without question the face of Cleveland sports right now. That doesn’t mean that he has to root for every Cleveland sports franchise, but he crossed the line when he wore a Yankees hat to the game last night. That’d be like David Ortiz donning a Peyton Manning jersey during a Colts/Pats game in New England or, even worse, Tom Brady wearing a Yankees hat to a Sox/Yankees game at Fenway. You just don’t do it.

At the time, what irked me most wasn’t that LeBron wore the hat to the game, but that he taunted the fans — who are, of course, his fans during basketball season — by holding the hat above his head and egging on the crowd. It was an immature and classless move, and at the time I said that it spoke very poorly of his so-called loyalties to his hometown.

And now this.

As I mentioned previously, athletes are fans too, and they can root for whomever they want. I’m not ragging on LeBron for being a Cowboys fan or a Yankees fan or even a Bulls fan, all of whom he rooted for as a kid growing up in Akron. I do think it’s fair to call him a frontrunner, since all three of those teams were winning titles back then, but that’s not the point.

In fact, LeBron choosing to publicize his allegiances in front of Cleveland fans and, in the Indians/Yankees case, even taunting the fans in the process, isn’t even the point anymore. The point now, as Braylon Edwards pointed out, is simple: LeBron James isn’t a Cleveland guy. And that’s very bad news for the Cavaliers and their fans.

LeBron can opt out of his contract after the 2009-10 season, at which point the Cavaliers will be able to offer the star forward more money than any other team in the league. That may sound like a big advantage for the Cavs, and maybe it will prove to be. But working against Cleveland is the fact that LeBron’s contract with Nike will reportedly pay him more if he moves to a larger market like New York or LA. Maybe that’s just a rumor, because I haven’t found any concrete numbers on this, but it’s a widely reported rumor that LeBron has never bothered to shoot down. Add on top of that the fact that LeBron would make even more money in endorsements playing in a big city while also inflating his already enormous worldwide popularity, and however many more millions the Cavaliers can offer LeBron will look like chump change in the final equation.

And then, of course, there’s LeBron’s buddy Jay-Z, who just happens to be part owner of the New Jersey Nets. The Nets just happened to shed a bunch of salary by trading Richard Jefferson this offseason. They also just happen to be planning to move to Brooklyn and open a brand new arena in 2010. And Brooklyn just happens to be LeBron’s “favorite borough” in his favorite city of New York.

Throughout all of this city-wide “will he stay or will he go?” fretting, the one ace the fans thought they had up their sleeve was the fact that LeBron was a hometown guy who actually wanted to stay in Cleveland. Well, I’m not buying it, and neither is Braylon Edwards:

“He’s a guy from Akron who likes everybody but his hometown. I don’t know how that’s possible, but it is what it is, and he is who he is. You know, it’s LeBron.”

Preach on, Braylon.

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