On the Hickson trade

July 1st, 2011 by John Krolik

I think Omri Casspi is a fine player. He can run the floor, he can knock down open three-point shots, he’s athletic, and he plays hard. I think he’ll be a solid player in this league for a long time, and now he’s wearing a Cavalier uniform. Oh, and he fills a gaping hole at the small forward position.

To be honest, though, I feel like this trade was more about Hickson than it was about Casspi. Everyone who reads this blog knows that I worship two things: defense and efficiency. I feel teams should be build around those two things.

For all his talent, J.J. Hickson was neither an effective defensive player or an efficient offensive player. The Kings got more upside in this trade. There’s no real getting around that. If Cousins decides to play in the paint instead of launching jumpers next year, Hickson refines his mid-range game and gets easy buckets off of Cousins’ passing instead of launching his own mid-rang jumpers, and Hickson learns to play defense like an NBA 4 should, than Hickson and Jog DMC could be one of the best frontcourts in the league. Casspi doesn’t offer that kind of upside.

However, what I think we’re seeing with the Hickson trade and the Thompson pick is an admission that the original run-and-gun Cavaliers idea didn’t work out. A defensive mentality needs to be put in, and the team used its fourth pick on one of the best defenders in the draft. The offense needs to become more efficient, and the team used the 1st overall pick on a floor general who also happens to be a hyper-efficient scorer.

Hickson showed flashes of greatness throughout his time as a Cavalier, especially after Baron came aboard. Some people probably believe he was talented enough to wait for. However, the management feels differently, and I can’t help but agree with them. I wasn’t willing to spend another year waiting for Hickson to get comfortable with his jumper, learn proper post footwork, or learn how to show and recover on defense. Rebuilding is different from waiting, and building a team around what Hickson could someday become is the definition of waiting.

The Cavs aren’t ready to contend for a playoff spot, but they appear to be done playing the waiting game. They’re ready to build a solid team, build around good defense and efficient offense. It won’t happen overnight, but if the team stays the course on the court and in the front office, it will happen offensively. I’m much more willing to wait for that team to come together than I was willing to wait for J.J. Hickson to put it all together.