The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Would Corey Maggette help?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 17 January 2007

Reports have surfaced that the LA Clippers are actively seeking a trade for G/F Corey Maggette. As of Monday one columnist thinks that the Spurs, who were considered to be one of the few teams interested in Maggette, are likely out of the running to acquire the former Duke player since other teams — such as Golden State — are in better positions to offer the Clippers more. One report speculates that Cleveland is interested in Maggette and might be one of the few teams engaged in talks with the Clippers’ front office.

I cannot speak to the validity of any of these reports. The former doesn’t mention the Cavs and the later suggests that a package of Wesley, Pavlovic, and a future first-round draft pick could be enough to win over the Clippers (the article says the LAC is seeking a veteran, a young star, and a first round pick). As any of you who’ve either watched a few Cavs games this season or read this blog know, Wesley and Pavlovic are not very enticing trade prospects. Wesley hasn’t played much; when he has he’s been unproductive; and that he hasn’t played much given the utter lack of productivity from the back court is a glaring signal of his ability to contribute meaningful minutes in the NBA. Pavlovic is stuck behind LBJ, which for the moment might be a good thing because the Cavs could always spin Pavlovic as an “unproven talent with a high upside” instead of something more closely related to what he’s done as a Cavalier, which would probably read “disinterested player with a knack for being on the wrong end of highlight films” (visions of a Wade-to-Shaq by way of a behind-Sasha’s back-dribble dance in one’s head). Also, the Cavs don’t have a first round draft pick for the 2007 draft, which is a major problem for this deal because future first round draft picks are not as sought after given that a) the 2007 draft class is rich in talent and b) the Cavs are a really good team that should keep improving. Undermining the report about the Cavs acquiring Maggette, then, is the idiotic package the report cites as the sort of package that would allow the Cavs to land Maggette.

No matter. It’s fun to speculate. Let’s do so now.

Suppose the Cavs could acquire Maggette without giving up any of the starters. Would such a move help the team?

Maggette has been an above-average G/F for most of his time in the NBA; in each of the last four seasons (2004-2007) Maggette has been above-average, his below-average seasons coming in 2000, 2002-3. For his career Maggette has a Win Score per minute average of .166. This season Maggette’s Win Score per minute is .180 (average for a shooting guard is .125; for a small forward, .152) and a WP48 of .135 (average is .100), so Maggette has clearly been a productive player this season.

A weakness of his on offense is inefficient shooting — his career average of .95 points per shot is slightly below league average, mostly attributable to his unjustifiable propensity for attempting three pointers (31% career shooter from downtown) — but he makes up for his shooting from the field with excellent shooting from the line — he’s a career 82% FT shooter who routinely averages more than 10 FTA per 48 minutes. This season he’s averaging a staggering 13.1 FTA per 48 minutes. Although he’s averaging only 15.6 points per game this season, he’s averaged as many as 22 ppg in the past. So he can score.

The Cavs do not need help in the front court. Again, for anyone who’s followed this blog or the team this much should be clear. LBJ will forever be holding down the 3-spot. Gooden/Marshall/Varejao/Ilgauskas hold down the 4-5 spots. The front court is beyond solid.

The problem with the Cavs is that the team does not have a back court. I mean, there are players — Snow, Jones, Hughes, Gibson — who are put on the court with the express purpose of playing, say, shooting guard. But there is a gap between “playing shooting guard” and “playing shooting guard well”; a gap that has yet to be covered with anything approaching regularity by any of these players. As the season wears on the chasm between “play” and “play well” is bound to expand, what with Eric Snow aging like Robin Williams in Jack and the compound buildup of bumps and bruises on the fragile body of Larry Hughes posing an increasingly greater threat of missed games due to injury.

The point being that Corey Maggette would best be used — and this is the only way the trade would would make sense — as a shooting guard. An added benefit is that Maggette is big enough to spell LBJ. But any notion of Maggette as a 3 while LBJ plays the 4 and someone else (Varejao or Ilgauskas most likely) plays the 5 is questionable at best. No, Maggette would only function as a shooting guard, which means that the odd man out is Larry Hughes, presuming Hughes is still unwilling to play PG.

Corey Maggette is a better player than Larry Hughes, so if adding Corey Maggette means less Larry Hughes then it is reasonable to think that Maggette would help the Cavs.

But then what becomes of Larry Hughes? The only way Hughes will have any trade value is if he plays. Of course, if he plays he has a greater risk of injury and injured players usually don’t have much trade value. Such is the conundrum of Larry Hughes. Maggette could also become a free agent after the season (he has a player option for ’08; this is a reason why trading Gooden for Maggette would be a very dumb move), and if the Cavs are unable to trade Hughes during this season then signing Maggette would be next to impossible and also a really bad basketball move — you just don’t employ two highly-paid shooting guards on one team. If the Cavs trade for Maggette they must think they’d be able to move Hughes. “Leasing” Maggette for a season — paying him this season and then hoping he walks — would undermine any faith Hughes would feel the team has in him. If his ego is as delicate as his body, this spells disaster. So Hughes would have to go. But who would take Hughes’s big contract? Even Isiah Thomas isn’t that bad of a GM and Danny Ferry has yet to show that he possesses the sort of ability of finesse the string of deals necessary to both bring Maggette in and ship Hughes out. But this is exactly the sort of thing that would need to happen.

The chain of cause and effect with a trade such as this is more complex and requires more time than I’m willing to give it. Suffice it to say that: a) Maggette is a better guard than any other guard on the roster, so employing Maggette would improve the team, but b) to employ Maggette would require the sort of basketball management moves the Cavs are not in a position to make, so c) I do not think Maggette will be a Cav this season.

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9 Responses to “Would Corey Maggette help?”

  1. Ben said

    Maggette would be an improvement over Hughes but that’s really all I can say about him.

    If the Cavs are going to make a trade for a guard,it’s imperative that he is a strong-very strong outside shooter. He doesn’t have to be great at getting his own shot or posting up or particularly athletic.

    If the guys available are guys like Maggette and Early Watson, I’ll pass. Those are minor upgrades over Snow and Hughes (though upgrades nonetheless). Sure they’re better, but they still aren’t lights out shooters. With LeBron and Z, the rest of the guys aren’t going to get a lot of plays run, so they need to make their points off the opportunities Z and ‘Bron give ’em. If your a PF, that means doing the dirty work (the Cavs are set with Gooden and AV), if you’re a guard, that means making teams pay when they double LeBron or Z.

    I’m not sure Maggette is that guy.

  2. If the Cavs could get Maggette by giving up Hughes that would help. Neither are particularly good shooters, but Maggette is a more capable scorer.

    That said, you are right that Maggette is not ideal. And I still don’t think the Cavs have much of a chance of landing him.

  3. Erik said

    Everyone seems to hate Hughes. I don’t really understand why. I’ve tried to weigh the positives and negatives.

    Minuses (what everyone notices):

    *Injury-prone

    *Inconsistent shooter

    Plusses (what no one seems to give him credit for):

    *Actually tries on defense, and is a reasonably good defender. Not even LeBron can claim that all the time.

    *Plays well with LeBron, which can’t be undervalued in a league full of huge egos and locker-room cancers.

    *Rarely complains.

    *Doesn’t get into trouble off the court.

    *Plays balls-to-the-wall, which causes a lot of his injuries.

    *Seems to be pretty tough, considering all the adversity that’s been thrown his way in the past year.

    The verdict: Hughes isn’t Pippen to LeBron’s Jordan. But he’s a good player. The fans might want him gone for various reasons. But be careful what you wish for. The next guy might not fit in as well.

  4. Inconsistent shooting from your shooting guard is a problem. But it’s more than that: he’s not inconsistent– he’s consistently poor from the outside.

    Trying on defense is nice, being a good defender is better. But his defense isn’t that great and as a defensive compliment to LBJ he’s not very effective.

    You are spot-on with some of the pluses–I think Hughes seems like an upstanding citizen. He’s been through a lot and he’s handled himself admirably. But for every tangential plus (doesn’t complain, seems tough) I can think of an immediate minus (in terms of on-the-court productivity).

    Larry Hughes is not a terrible basketball player. Of the entire global population, he’s easily in the top 1%. But he’s paid a TON of money and for the amount of money he’s paid he’s not good. If he were paid 5mil a season I’d feel differently. But he’s being paid 10+mil a season.

    Perhaps I need to start picking on Danny Ferry.

  5. Ben said

    re:Ferry.. I really have no problem… yet. He was saddled with Snow when he arrived and Hughes was really the only signing he could make at shooting guard. Redd wasn’t coming here. Neither was Ray Allen.

    So that leaves Joe Johnson and Larry Hughes. Obviously, I’d rather have Johnson. But Phoenix was supposed to match and the only reason they didn’t was because the Hawks gave up some number 1s and Boris Diaw. The Suns would have no reason to make a deal with the Cavs; they’d keep Johnson. So then the Cavs lose out on JJ and by that time Hughes has signed elsewhere.

    And we get to watch a back court of Eric Snow and Ira Newble.

    As for Hughes… he’s not a good jump shooter. He just isn’t. It’s more pronounced right now because he shares the backcourt with Snow. You could hide one of them if the other could drain open jumpers; but they don’t.

    Brown should really limit Larry’s minutes to about 35-38 a game (and LeBron’s from 38-40) just to keep the wear and tear off him.

  6. Fair points, Ben. But I still think Ferry has done a poor job thus far.

  7. Randall said

    Well, DZ, the only way you can judge a GM is by saying what he should or could have done compared to what he did do. Hughes was flat out the best player at the #2 spot who was a) willing to come here b) not a restricted free agent. You could critique Ferry by saying he paid LH too much, but it’s doubtful Hughes would have taken less, because he was coming off a great year and Washington could have given him more. Perhaps Ferry should have a) signed a few slightly inferior players for less money, essentially spreading out the risk or b) not used all of the cap money and saved it for another year when a better player might have become available? Neither of these options was really feasible at the time. With Lebron on the clock, so to speak (this was pre-extension, remember), Ferry was under enormous pressure to sign the best backcourt player he could get. That, barring a sign and trade for Johnson, was exactly what he did.

    The same holds true for the Damon Jones signing. This was regarded as a bad sign last year, but what were Ferry’s options? All the players the Cavs could have signed turned out to be worse than DJ and/or got ridiculous money for their skill set (Jaric, Jasikevicious, Watson, etc.). As it turns out, Jones earned his $3 mil. with one shot versus the Wizards. And, he’s turned in a decent season this year thus far.

    If you want to criticize Ferry, I think the Ilgauskas and Marshall signings were far more suspect.

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