Opinion: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Ritchie Mulhall

Richard Mulhall

These 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers are really starting to remind me of the 2010 Cleveland Cavaliers; and no, I’m not talking about former Cavalier Delonte West’s alleged affair with LeBron James’ mother, Gloria James.

I’m talking about the fact that the Cavs just can’t seem to be happy with what they’ve got. During the 2009-2010 campaign – you know, the one in which we should have won a championship – the Cavs’ front office decided to deal beloved, longtime Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas as part of a three-team, six-player trade in exchange for Washington Wizards forward Antawn Jamison. At the time, a lot of people considered this a solid trade considering Jamison, a two-time all-star, could provide the Cavs with a spark heading into the season’s back nine.

There was only one problem with this logic, though. The Cavs didn’t need a spark. When the Cavs traded away the fan-favorite Ilgauskas for the veteran Jamison, the team was 43-11 and riding an impressive 13-game winning streak. Cleveland was undoubtedly the best team in the league and tried to up the ante with a big trade just before the deadline.

And what happened immediately following the trade? The Cavs slipped on a three-game losing skid as Jamison scored a meager two points in his highly heralded debut in Cleveland. Some trade.

Sure, the Cavs were able to bounce back and finish the regular season with a 61-21 record and reclaim Ilgauskas after the Wizards bought out his contract (thus making him a free agent available for signing), but was the trade really worth the effort in the end?

When the Cavs acquired Jamison and dropped Ilgauskas for that brief 30-day period, it altered the dynamic of the team. It threw off the chemistry general manager Danny Ferry and company worked so hard to cultivate during LeBron’s first tenure in Cleveland.

Fast forward six years later, and the Cavs appear to be up to their old tricks again. This past weekend, trade rumors emerged stating the Knicks, Celtics and Cavs were discussing a trade centered around Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony.

While a Melo / Love deal generated excitement in Cleveland as many fans gushed over the idea of Melo and LeBron playing together, I scoffed at the idea, hoping the rumors were false.

Although the Cavs are still figuring out more ways to get Love involved in the offense and make him factor more in the rotation, he’s still a valuable asset to the team. He’s averaging a double-double per game (15 points and 10 rebounds) as the Cavs’ third scoring option, and he’s just a better fit than Melo. LeBron and Melo are virtually the same player, so as enticing as the thought of two of the top draft picks from the elite class of 2012 playing together sounds, the Cavs really don’t need Melo. Besides, there wouldn’t be enough room for all the egos in the locker room. It’s already a tight squeeze as it is with LeBron, Love and Kyrie Irving.

Amidst this swirl of trade noise surrounding the Cavs, LeBron refuted New York Daily News reporter Frank Isola’s “false” reports, but how can we know for sure? If the Cavs can fire David Blatt after an Eastern-Conference best 30-11 start, what’s to stop David Griffin, the Cavaliers’ general manager, from unloading some of the roster in continuance of his mass personnel overhaul?

Now, the latest buzz is that the Cavs are open to trade talks involving Iman Shumpert. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Cleveland is exploring ways to improve its bench, which would include offering Shumpert in potential deals.

The burning question, though, is why the Cavs would want to trade Shumpert, a key target of Cleveland last year who was instrumental in catapulting the Cavs to the 2015 NBA Finals. If the Cavs were to trade Shumpert, they would also lose a key defensive catalyst and indispensable hustle points.

The only person I would even consider trading is Timofey Mozgov, and Cleveland would be limited in terms of what it could garner for him since his productivity has declined since the Finals.

It’s true that Griffin made bold moves last season to get Shumpert, Mozgov and J.R. Smith, but that was during a time when the Cavs were desperate to make said moves. Although the Cavs might not be good enough to topple the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors or even the Oklahoma City Thunder in the west, they have a better shot with the players they have now than if they were to take advantage of an approaching trade deadline.

Terry Pluto from the Plain Dealer said it best:

“Here’s the problem — the Cavs already have made several major deals in the last 20 months. A team can’t keep changing critical parts of its roster, especially a team with a 38-14 record. That’s the best in the Eastern Conference.”

The current roster still has its flaws, but it might be the best we can do right now.

Richard Mulhall is a sports columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].