Am I gonna have to learn to spell "Iguodala"?

Over the years, I’ve had to memorize how to spell names like “Ilgauskas” and “Szczerbiak” (still got it!) and now Marc Stein reports that the Sixers are trying to interest the Cavs in Andre Iguodala:

Another recent topic discussed in this cyberspace: Philadelphia’s attempts to interest Cleveland in a deal for Andre Iguodala.

Open to any trade that will help them convince LeBron James to stay in Cleveland — as witnessed by their early season run at Stephen Jackson and their well-chronicled interested in a floor-spacing power forward such as Antawn Jamison or Troy Murphy — LeBron’s Cavs are on the short list of teams that would consider absorbing the four years and $56 million left on Iguodala’s contract after this season.

The determined pursuit of Jackson until his November trade from Golden State to Charlotte only makes it more apparent that the Cavs are not solely focused on “stretch fours,” as they’re known in the modern game.

Iguodala, though, is difficult for Philly to move because of all that money he’s still owed. Not as difficult as moving Elton Brand or Samuel Dalembert, but all of the teams that like Iguodala – Houston, Dallas and Cleveland are known to have shown varying degrees of interest – have reservations about taking on a deal that big.

The Cavs have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Would they still want Iguodala on their payroll if LeBron leaves and plunges Cleveland into that worst-case position?

Iggy could be the perfect number two for LeBron. He’s young (just 26), he’s uber-athletic and while he’s really talented, he’s not quite a number one option. Could he be the fabled “LeBron’s Pippen”?

Brian Windhorst confirms that the Cavs are interested:

According to several league sources, the Cavs and Sixers have been in talks about Iguodala. The talks remain open and it is still possible the Cavs could trade for him, contrary to other reports at the end of the last week. At this point, however, the two sides are just in discussion and have not progressed to the serious stage.

The Sixers are probably at that stage with a lot of teams. Over the last several weeks, when the Sixers actually starting making calls offering Iguodala, some teams were taken off guard. They had not done research into Iguodala because recently it didn’t seem sensible. After all, it was less than two years ago that the Sixers signed Iguodala to a six-year, $80 million deal and hoped he’d mature into an perennial All-Star.

[snip]

But then there is the prospect of getting a player like Iguodala on the cheap. This is the kind of deal the Cavs like to pull. Willingness to take on salary got them O’Neal for Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. And Mo Williams for Damon Jones and Joe Smith.

Iguodala is like a younger version of [Stephen] Jackson, who they missed out on. He’s just an average shooter but a strong defender, rebounder and distributor for someone at his size (6-6) and position. This year, a terrible season for the 76ers, he’s averaging a career high in rebounds (6.8) and assists (5.7). He’s also shown good leadership skills.

Those are all desirable traits, but he’s the type of player that it may take a while for the Cavs to adjust to. Right now, as they are on a seven-game win streak and display their depth nightly, this acquisition might not make sense.

Iguodala and the Cavs? It is complex, to be sure. But it is also quite possible.

In a throwaway line in my Amare post, I called Iguodala “Larry Hughes with muscles,”(meaning he’s slasher but not a great shooter) which isn’t quite fair. After some heavy lurking over at Real Cavs Fans and a discussion with my brother, I’ve warmed considerably to the idea of adding AI2.

Now, comparing anyone to Larry Hughes during his Cleveland tenure is a bit misleading. There’s a lot of reasons why Hughes didn’t work here (his shot selection, attitude, and injuries to name a few) but he wasn’t helped by the fact that the Cavs literally had no point guard. Ferry and Brown did Larry no favors by pairing him in a backcourt with Eric Snow. Those were the days, eh?

With Mo Williams on board, Iguodala would, unlike Hughes, immediately step into a situation which plays to his strengths, rather than exacerbates his weaknesses. A trio of James, Iguodala and Williams is just a tad stronger than LBJ, Hughes and Snow, no? Plus, I’d bet Iggy’s shooting numbers would go up when he’s getting wide open looks and not trying to be the hero every night (as with Jason Kidd in Dallas).

Yes, Iggy isn’t a stretch four, but he sure is a beast of a wing (imagine the crunch time, lock-down D they could play with LeBron and Iguodala *drools*). The issue for Ferry and Co. is whether or not you trust LeBron and Andre to work together. Best case scenario, Iguodala pushes the Cavs over the hump, LeBron re-ups and the Cavs have a long term solution at shooting guard. If LeBron ends up staying, Iguodala’s contract length becomes a strength (he’s signed through 2013/14) but, as Stein mentions, if LeBron decides to bolt, the Cavs are stuck with paying Iguodala all that money.

At the end of the day, Antawn Jamison still seems like the best fit for the Cavaliers. Jamison gives the Cavs another shooter and he’d plug directly into their starting lineup while replacing their weakest link. If things don’t work out, he’s only around for another two seasons (compared to Iggy’s four). But lord knows if the Wizards will cooperate.

According to Stein (same link), the Wizards are demanding the Blazers give them both Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum for Brendan Haywood. Yikes. If that’s what they’re demanding for Haywood, I doubt they’ll take Z and J.J. for Jamison (as far as I’m concerned, you either get J.J. or a 1st round pick, not both).

I go back and forth on whether or not I think the Cavs have to make a deal. This team is really freaking good as currently constructed; they passed every test you could ask for and not only survived, but thrived. However, I’d sleep easier at night knowing they added another offensive piece.

In the end, it really comes down to Washington’s asking price and which crunch time position you feel more comfortable about, power forward or shooting guard. You really can’t go wrong with trading for either Jamison or Iguodala; either addition would push the Cavaliers over the top. The Cavs are already the best team in the NBA and, in my opinion, adding either AI2 or Antawn makes them the no-brainer favorites.

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