Spears: Would the Cavs win the D-League championship?

I took some grief for having the Cavs ranked dead last in our NBA preview, but after a decent 7-9 start, the Cleveland has lost 30 of its last 31 games and has the worst record in the league.

In the video clip below, Yahoo! Sports Marc Spears and Greg Anthony talk about how the Cavs rebuild. At one point, Spears wonders if the Cavs would win the D-League championship:

Some might write of Spears’ comments as a joke, but he said he wasn’t “clowning,” and that the roster is that bad.

Of course the Cavs would win the D-League championship, and it’s an insult to imply that they wouldn’t. Antawn Jamison is a two-time All-Star and Mo Williams made the All-Star game in 2009. J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao are two pretty good bigs.

Perhaps Spears was talking about the team as it stands, with Williams and Varejao both sidelined with injuries. This roster would still win the D-League, but on any given night, they could have a tough time with a D-League team. Right now, the Cavs are starting Ramon Sessions, Manny Harris, Christian Eyenga, Jamison and Hickson, with Anthony Parker, Daniel Gibson and Samardo Samuels getting most of the minutes off the bench. This roster would have a few tough nights in a 50-game D-League schedule.

In terms of rebuilding, the Cavs are going to have a tough time attracting a big name free agent after Dan Gilbert’s scathing letter about LeBron after “The Decision.” The letter may have won the hearts of Cavs fans everywhere, but it’s not going to appeal to a free agent looking for a new home. They need to blow up the roster, and that means trading away their three best assets — Jamison, Williams and Varejao — for prospects and/or draft picks. For the Cavs to become a playoff team again, they need to draft really, really well, and strike gold when they have the opportunity to overpay a free agent. That means giving a max deal to a guy who isn’t deserving, but eventually that player grows into his contract. It’s an unlikely scenario, but it’s one that the Cavs have to be counting on if they are hoping to make the postseason anytime soon.

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Three sensible trade offers for Steve Nash

Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash drives down the court chased by New York Knicks center Amar’e Stoudemire (1) in the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York January 17, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

ESPN’s Chad Ford lists the 10 impact players most likely to be moved before the Feb. 24 NBA trade deadline and believe it or not, #10 on his list is Steve Nash.

The Suns have said all along that Nash is still the core of the franchise, but at 22-24, the Suns are a long way from contending for a championship. Heck, they may not even make the playoffs this season. The soon-to-be 37-year-old is still playing at a high level, so he could help a team in need of a good point guard.

So here are a few reasonable offers that might get the Suns to bite.

1. Los Angeles Lakers
The chances that the Suns would trade Nash to the Lakers are pretty slim. No one in the West really wants to help Kobe try to three-peat, but the Lakers aren’t playing very well and they have a big piece that the Suns might be interested in.

There’s a saying — don’t trade big for small — but the Lakers aren’t getting great play out of their point guard position and Nash’s shooting would be a great fit next to Kobe in the Laker backcourt. However, Nash’s propensity to dribble around until he finds the open man would take the ball out of Kobe’s hands, and that may not go over very well (or fit within the Lakers’ triangle offense). The trade would leave the Lakers very thin on the front line, and with the way that the Celtics are playing, it’s doubtful that they’re going to want to part ways with Bynum. But they’re not playing very good baskeball right now and the roster could use a shakeup. Perhaps Robin Lopez could be included to maintain the Lakers’ frontcourt depth.

For the Suns, Bynum could be a franchise cornerstone if he can just stay healthy. I have my doubts about his knees, but if the Phoenix doctors take a look at him and think that the worst is behind him, he may be worth the risk.

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Why didn’t the Kings get more for Kevin Martin?

In his post-deadline PER diem column, John Hollinger discusses how the Rockets were able to end up with a ton of assets in the three-way trade with the Kings and the Knicks.

Consider the Kings, for instance. They had a coveted star in Kevin Martin, $13 million in expiring contracts belonging to Kenny Thomas, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong, Ime Udoka and Sean May, and $1.6 million in cap room to do an unbalanced trade. They should have been controlling the entire game on deadline day.

Unfortunately, they didn’t choose to play. Sacramento didn’t let teams know Martin was available, and in fact insisted he wasn’t available; unlike Phoenix with Stoudemire, the Kings have no idea if Houston’s offer was the best one they could have had. In fact, there’s considerable evidence they could have done much better — possibly by bypassing the Rockets entirely.

Consider, for starters, what would have been the perfect home for Martin: Boston. The Kings could have sent Martin and little-used Andres Nocioni to the Celtics for Ray Allen and a first-round pick, and cleared $18 million in cap room (the Celtics, given their current time horizon, would have blurted out yes to this offer in a nanosecond).

They then could have used Allen and Kenny Thomas in a deal with the Knicks and walked away with the exact same trove of assets that the Rockets did. If so, Sacramento wouldn’t have Landry, but look at what they’d have instead: Jordan Hill, New York’s 2012 first-rounder, Boston’s 2011 first-rounder, the right to swap picks with New York in 2011 (admittedly, an item of more value to Houston given the two clubs’ likely records next season), and the same cap room they cleared with the Martin trade.

The only reason they don’t have those assets, it would appear, is that they didn’t ask. While the Kings fiddled, Houston forced the action and squeezed all it could from New York. When the Knicks wouldn’t flinch, the Rockets scrambled to get alternate deals in place: first an all-smoke, no-fire rumor with Chicago, and then a late deal with Sacramento that both pried Martin free and thrust the Knicks into action.

That story echoes a fairly constant background noise that’s been heard about Sacramento in recent years. The Kings have a small front office and nearly everybody in it has been there forever; one gets the impression not that they’ve lost their basketball acumen, but that they aren’t putting in the legwork anymore.

That Martin/Nocioni-for-Allen swap and subsequent trade with the Knicks is an interesting angle on this year’s trade deadline. By not making it known that Martin was available, the Kings didn’t get everyone’s best offer. Conversely, the Suns did hear everyone’s best offer or Stoudemire, and chose not to pull the trigger.

Jazz ship Brewer to Memphis

One last deal of note…

Ronnie Brewer has been dealt by Utah to the Grizzlies in exchange for a protected future first-round pick, according to Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune, Woj and a bunch of others with Twitter accounts.

The deal makes sense: By trading Brewer, the Jazz ease their logjam — sorry, Kevin — of wing players, freeing minutes for Wesley Matthews, C.J. Miles and Kyle Korver. More significantly, the Jazz will ease their luxury-tax burden, with the Grizzlies having the cap space to absorb Brewer’s $2.7 million salary.

“We had three or four players that were competing for minutes and we were able to turn that into a future asset,” Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor told Siler.

Memphis needed a guard, and Brewer is a decent player, though his PER is down to 13.12 this season after a great sophomore (18.30) season and a solid third (16.19) year. (Remember, 15.00 is the league average.) The bottom line is that he’s playing the same minutes (31+) but his shot attempts dropped from 10.2 per game last season to 7.8 this season. That’s going to result in a drop in PER.

On his Twitter page, Adrian Wojnarowski speculated about what this means for Rudy Gay:

This means Memphis is unlikely to pay Rudy Gay this summer.

I wouldn’t go that far, but it does give Memphis a solid starter if Gay does bolt this summer.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Who has cap space?

As the dust settles from the trade deadline, eight NBA teams have enough cap space to sign a “max” free agent this summer, according to FanHouse. With a salary cap of $53 million, the Knicks and the Heat will have enough space for two max free agents, while the Bulls, Nets, Kings, Clippers, Wizards and T-Wolves figure to have room for one max contract.

Bill Simmons had this to say on his Twitter feed:

Official LBJ Sweepstakes: Cavs, Bulls, NYK (favs); Mavs, Clips (sleepers); NJ, Mia, Hou, LAL(longshots). And so it begins.

It’s going to be an interesting summer. It all starts with the Cavs — can they break through and win a title? Would that keep LeBron in town?

Knicks fans are saying, “we better get LeBron,” but would they take Wade/Bosh or Wade/Stoudemire? Of course they would. I bet they’d even take Joe Johnson instead of Wade in either scenario.

The Bulls are going to be a big player. They have cap space to sign a max player and a very nice core of Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. Chicago would be a great landing spot for LeBron, Wade or Bosh.

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