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Cleveland, Milwaukee & Oklahoma City Trade Spare Parts – LeBron Gets a Point Guard, Skiles Gets a Loving Reunion

The Cavaliers improved their starting line-up in a three-team trade also involving the Milwaukee Bucks and Oklahoma City Carpetbaggers (formerly Seattle Sonics).

The net result is the Cav’s end up with point guard Mo Williams. Oklahoma City gets small forward Desmond Mason and power forward/center (and expiring contract) Joe Smith. The Bucks get point guard Luke Ridnour, combo guard Damon Jones (ok, he’s really a shooting guard, but he ends up playing some point; he’s also an expiring contract), and swingman Adrian Griffin.

What does this mean for the teams involved? Let’s have a look:

Williams is easily the best point guard LeBron’s worked with, outside of the All-Star Game or Team USA. Not a defense-first player (and likely dodging a bullet by getting away from D-first Scott Skiles), Williams walks into the second scoring option on the starting squad.

Likely depth chart:

C: Ilgauskas / Varejo / Allred
PF: Wallace /Hickson / Darnell Jackson
SF: James / Pavlovic / Szczerbiak
SG: Szczerbiak / Gibson / Thomas
PG: Williams / Gibson /Snow

If Delonte West is resigned, and the Cav’s are trying, West will be float between PG and SG. Theoretically, he might bump Wally Szcerbiak into a 6th man position and start at the 2, but that’s something to be sorted out in camp.

This definitely upgrades the first unit, which needs another scoring option with Big Ben on the floor. Williams will also stretch the defense a little. On the downside, they’re going to be relying on rookies for significant minutes at the power forward slot. That’s always rolling the dice a little. If West doesn’t re-sign, you’re lowering your backcourt defense significantly. (Wally and Mo aren’t stoppers, no sir.)

Daniel Gibson essentially steps up to replace Damon Jones, shouldn’t be too much drop-off, but reliable Joe Smith may be missed. Overall, if you’re a Cav’s fans, you should be happy with this.

Shall we just start calling this Bulls-North? Adding former Bulls captain (and Noah-hater) Adrian Griffin to former occasional Bulls starter Malik Allen and you can see Coach Skiles is starting to reel in his guys. I don’t think we have to worry about Ben Gordon winding up with the Bucks, though. Methinks Gordon would take LESS money in Europe than play for Skiles again.

Williams and Skiles would have inevitably butted heads, so from a chemistry stand-point, this was a good trade. From a playing-time standpoint, I’m not sure. It depends how much Skiles likes Ridnour or if they were really trying to free up minutes for Ramon Sessions, who certainly had his moments towards the end of last season. Desmond Mason wasn’t going to be playing too much behind Richard Jefferson, so his departure makes sense.

Likely depth chart:

C: Bogut / Gadzuric
PF: Villanueva / Allen / Alexander
SF: Jefferson / Griffin / Mbah a Moute
SG: Redd / Bell / Jones
PG: Sessions / Ridnour / Lue

I could be completely off on the point guard order. That could be a real fight in training camp. My sense is that Skiles has been bringing in his guys to be the back-ups in case the rookies don’t work out. Normally, I wouldn’t expect Griffin to see much court time, but unless Villanueva is pulling some double duty or Mbah a Moute comes around faster than expected, that’s likely to happen. Rumor has it Francisco Elson is going to sign if that happens, then maybe there’s enough beef at the 4/5 to let Villanueave slide to small forward for a very large second unit. Otherwise, Griffin will probably be defending and not scoring for around 15 minutes each game.

I still have my doubts about the Bucks making the play-offs, but this is starting to look a little more like a Skiles team, and Skiles will get 120% (110% is for sissies and Skiles hates sissies) out of his teams for the first couple years before they tune him out. Keep an eye on the Redd – Skiles relationship, ‘cause they could butt heads. And get ready for the Bucks vs. Bulls season opener. There should be no end of bad blood in that game.

Oklahoma City
I think it’s safe to say Russell Westbrook just got handed the keys to the car. With Ridnour out of the picture, this is becoming even more of a training team. I suppose we should watch out for them in three years. Still too many small forwards and too few shooting guards though.

Likely depth chart:

C: (Joe) Smith / (Robert) Smith / Sene
PF: Wilcox / Collison / Marshall
SF: Green / Mason / Dupree
SG: Durant / Wilkins / Weaver
PG: Westbrook/ Watson

Yes, they’re a mess at center. Wilcox and Marshall are expiring contracts, so you might see a lot more Collison, which isn’t a bad thing. He responds well to extended minutes. While I think Joe “expiring contract” Smith is their best center, since it’s a youth movement everywhere else, I expect Robert Smith (assuming the qualifying offer sticks) and Sene to have every opportunity to prove or disprove their ability to play. Still, Weaver might be the only true shooting guard on the roster. While there’s an issue of duplication of position with Durant and Green, put Westbrook in the mix and that’s a ton of young talent. We’ll see if they can resign them and fill in around them in a couple years.

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