During his tenure as Cavaliers general manager, Chris Grant has had a knack for performing Obi Wan Kenobi-like Jedi mind tricks on other teams to squeeze from them what he can. It started with the unloading of Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Clippers for Baron Davis and what turned out to be a No. 1 draft pick, which they used on Kyrie Irving.
While wheeling and dealing, Grant has tried very hard to put a contender on the court, through a variety of deals that involved players most people didn’t even know were in Cleveland. However, the team still struggles.
But in a weak Eastern Conference, the Cavs, inexplicably, remain in the playoff hunt. So, the Jedi Master felt compelled to pull another trick.
This time, it was the trading away of Andrew Bynum, whose low-risk signing still looked to have Grant with egg on his face, as the center grew more and more into a malcontent. It was pretty clear he wasn’t long for the team.
As talks with the Los Angeles Lakers broke down, there were still bidders. And in throwing in some draft picks that were essentially the NBA equivalent to magic beans, the Cavs bid Bynum adieu and got in exchange the one thing they have been missing for nearly four years.
That, of course, is a small forward. And by small forward, I mean one that could actually do something to help the team.
Luol Deng, though in the final year of his contract, is essentially filling a big hole that the Cavaliers have had in their lineup. No, Alonzo Gee wasn’t going to ever be more than a back-up, and in a league where the small forward position is center stage, Cleveland gets themselves a little closer to the limelight.
The chief concern is that Deng could potentially walk at the end of the season, which is, as always, the calculated risk. Even so, the deal has the bare minimum of downside.
And once again, Grant has convinced the NBA that these are not the droids they are looking for.