To be clear: I don’t really enjoy writing about rumors, because I feel like I’m using up words on things that aren’t going to happen and fighting these great moot battles. However, I will spit out a couple graphs here just to provide a quick baseline on a couple of the rumors flying about and things to clear up.
On Steph Marbury and Mikki Moore going to the Celtics: I really don’t forsee either of those moves as being this year’s version of the P.J. Brown acquisition. I don’t see Marbury as being a rotation-quality player on a championship team, and see him mucking up chemistry and holding the ball more than anything. And even going past chemistry, Sam Cassell is such a good locker room guy he went straight from being a player to being an assistant coach, but he nearly killed the Celtics in the playoffs because he’s completely washed up but only knows how to function as a guy with the ball in his hands. Steph’s going to be the same way. He’s not a spot-up guy, defensive specialist, or a crafty guy. At his best, he was a guy who made plays. I don’t see his skills translating when he’s at 20% of his abilities. And I like Steph.
Is Mikki Moore better than Leon Powe or Big Baby Davis? Are we sure about that? He’s a replacement-quality big. Again, really not an impact move. The only guys with that marginal of a talent level who can help out are guys who give you rebounding and post defense at an elite level, which Mikki doesn’t. Then again, after P.J. Brown’s pulling a Kenard in game 7 last year, anything’s possible.
I’d love it if Joe Smith was bought out and came here. In our series with the Celtics, the three guys who came out as absolute keepers were LBJ, Lonts, and Joe. They were the guys clearly helping the team every game. Obviously, we had to give him up to essentially steal Mo Williams, but Joe is absolutely a guy you’d call playoff-approved: he brings a ton of stuff to the table, plays calm, and doesn’t mess anything up on the court. I miss Joe dearly, I’d love him back.
Outside of Joe Smith, I’m having trouble comprehending why there’s been so much clamoring for a league-average big. Ben Wallace is a solid starter now that his energy’s back and is playing like a DPOY when he’s on the court. Andy’s fallen off since the beginning of the year, but clearly he’s one of the best backup bigs in the league. Past that, LeBron is ludicrously effective when he plays the four-spot in limited minutes, putting up a PER of 39.4 (!) currently at the four, which he plays about half as much as he plays the wing.
And JJ Hickson is an absolute monster who’s the best young player other than LeBron in the LeBron era, will be starting at the four-spot in 2010, and already does some things better than any other big on the Cavs, like finish off LeBron’s penetration and leap to block shots. And his physical tools are in the 95th percentile at the four-spot. He’s already playing well, and he’s only getting better. That he makes mistakes doesn’t mean he can’t be trusted, and just because Mikki Moore or Robert Horry would play “mistake-free” ball doesn’t mean they won’t be hurting the team by being a step slow on defense or unable to unclump the lane on offense or not being able to get up for rebounds. Subtle things go both ways, and a lack of energy can doom a team just as fast as rookie overeagerness. JJ’s going to make a positive impact in these playoffs. I’d already take him for a game played tomorrow over a guy like Big Baby Davis, and I certainly don’t think it’s worth undermining his confidence to roll the dice on the chance Robert Horry isn’t completely done, which he probably is. JJ is a rotation player. Get this fact into your minds.
One thing I would’ve liked to see is us get an extra wing to free up more possibilities for LBJ at the four small-ball, but with Kinsey and Pavlovic unable to crack the rotation at the same time as it is, I don’t worry too much. This team is deep. It’s always good to find an upgrade, but getting depth for depth’s sake isn’t the move right now. Adjust to the fact that the Newble/Marshall era is over-everyone in the rotation is a rotation-quality player.
PS-If we’re going to add anyone, I want James White, who’s actually tearing up the D-League right now. Him and LBJ on the fast-break would destroy smaller universes.