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Section 109: After LeBron re-signs, Trade Standing Pat For Signing Lee

February 10, 2010
© 2010
In my previous post, I mentioned the good young talent that is mired on the New Jersey Nets roster. One guy I pointed out was Brook Lopez, a top 10 draft pick in 2008 who is paying dividends for the Nets in just his second season. Lopez put up more than 20 points the last time the Nets were in Cleveland, and last night he dropped in 23 points along with 14 rebounds while banging with Shaq, Z and Andy. He was also 7-9 from the free throw line.
Speaking of good young centers like Lopez, you know what the Cavs need to get after they finish re-signing LeBron? A good young center. One of my NBA axioms is “you don’t win championships without a good center and a good point guard.” When Shaq and Z eventually retire (which could be in July for either or both, if the Cavs win a championship), the Cavs need someone to replace them.
There are not many good seven-foot true centers out there. There are a lot of what I call FOOPs — Forwards Out Of Position. A little too short and underweight to match up with a Dwight Howard or Shaq, FOOPs man the post for about half the teams in the league. The main reason is there are always guys like Eddie Curry and Kwame Brown kicking around the league, who have the size but are no good.
So who would help the Cavs in the post right away? David Lee, a talented FOOP on a lousy Knicks team who will be a free agent this summer. Lee was given some one-year hush money by the Knicks to keep him happy last season when he was a free agent. The idea was to keep him interested in staying with the Knicks until they could sign a superstar to anchor the roster, then re-sign Lee to a longer contract. But what would Lee say after LeBron re-signs with Cleveland, and they offered him a chance to play for a championship with The King here in the midwest?
Now Lee is a FOOP in New York, but he could shift back to playing power forward and the Cavs could move Andy Varejao to center, which he played on the bench squad last year. Because Lee is a superior outside shooter, he would stretch the defense, but still be a force on the boards with Andy.
In the trade deadline frenzy this month, the Cavs were frequently linked to Antwan Jamison. Most NBA sages now believe that the Cavs will not break up the team they have this season, but snagging Lee as a free agent would give them many of the traits that Jamison offers without giving up any players. Their games are comparable and even better, Lee is six years younger.
Will it happen? Who knows. A lot can happen between now and the summer. But with LeBron in town, there is a tremendous draw for free agents to play in Cleveland.
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