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Do the Cavaliers have a little Yankees in them?

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Published: May 29, 2011

For several reasons, I must admit that I have had a little soft spot in my heart for the Cleveland Cavaliers. After “The Decision,” I could not help but root for them last season and since the Hornets didn’t have any ping pong balls, I also found myself pulling for them in the draft lottery. For those of you who don’t know, the rooting paid off. No, not doing the regular season, but on the night of the lottery the Cavaliers struck gold by landing the #1 and #4 picks in the upcoming draft.

Now comes word that the Cavaliers are willing to take on Richard Hamilton’s contract in order to get the Detroit Pistons pick in the upcoming draft (#8 overall).  The Cavs would then take that pick and package it with their fourth pick to acquire the #2 pick in the draft, presumably to select Derrick Williams out of Arizona. Now, as somebody who supports Cleveland and wants them to rebuild a city that was devastated by the loss of the False Prophet, I am excited about the prospects of them possibly turning it around so quickly. Even as I say that, however, I must admit that I feel like I am being a bit of a hypocrite because I absolutely despise teams that buy players (Yankees, cough, Yankees) and in some ways that is exactly what Cleveland is doing here.

Cleveland obtained the first pick because they took on Baron Davis’s ridiculous contract, and now they have the opportunity to grab an extra pick if they choose to eat another twenty-five million bucks. If this trade goes through, they will have essentially traded their own first round pick and $37 million dollars for the first two picks in the 2011 draft. In a market where teams pinch pennies to avoid the luxury tax and crybaby billionaires complain that they Hornets added a little over 1 million dollars in salary by trading for Carl Landry, there is a team willing to spend $37 million just to have the right to draft two unproven commodities.

But for some reason we are all okay with this, even though we curse big market teams who engage in this very same tactic. Why is that? Is it simply because we feel bad for the Cavaliers and that earns them a pass? Is it because that, theoretically, every team in the NBA had the opportunity to pull of similar deals, while small market teams in baseball dont really have a chance when a CC Sabathia hits the market? Are we okay with it because this is a historically bad draft and we all know that Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams will not make Cleveland a contender in a conference where Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, and Derrick Rose are all still relatively young? Because, surely, a team buying the top two picks in the 2003 draft would have been met with outrage by small market fans. Hell, even the big boys would have complained.

There are any number of reasons why this just feels different, and who knows, maybe this deal with Detroit and Minnesota never goes through. But if it does, it is likely that NBA fans outside of Cleveland will simply skim the story and think to themselves “good for them.” You just have to wonder how that news would have been received by a fan base such as ours if it would have been another city and another billionaire pulling the strings.

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