Larry HughesDespite Local Rumors, Hughes Unlikely To Go Anywhere

In case you missed it today, the Cleveland Plain Dealer had this little gem buried on their sports page: The Cavaliers have been talking to a couple teams about trading struggling guard Larry Hughes. According to Branson Wright,

“Larry Hughes’ time with the Cavaliers might be just about over. According to several league sources, the Cavs have contacted several teams about a deal involving the 6-5 guard.

One source said the Washington Wizards are one of those teams and another source said another team is in the Atlantic Division.

The trade deadline is Feb. 21.

“Hughes will be gone way before then,” said one source, who did not want to be identified.”

The line about iot being an Atlantic Division team is an interesting one, for sure. Were it 2 years ago, I would bet the team would be the New York Knicks. Larry would be a perfect fit for those Knicks teams, an overpaid and underproducing pseudo-star. But with the intense scrutiny and pressure that Isiah Thomas is under in New York right now, it seems unlikely he would make a move for Larry Hughes right now. You can count out Boston and Toronto, as neither team makes any sense whatsoever. That leaves New Jersey and Philadelphia, and more importantly, Jason Kidd and Andre Miller.

Let reality set in for a minute, though. Larry Hughes is not going anywhere. The Cavaliers front office can “shop” Larry Hughes around all they want. It doesn’t change the fact that nobody is going to take on a player who is shooting 32% from the field, averaging 9.8 ppg and 1.9 turnovers per game, has a 7.95 efficiency rating, and makes $12 million per year.

Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal doesn’t seem to think there are any active players in the Larry Hughes market, saying,

“According to several league sources, the Cavs have been calling around to investigate the trade market. They are not directly shopping any players — more getting a sense of who could be available. Most teams are in this mode right now.”

In the end, I’m sure the Cavs are probably begging teams to take Larry Hughes off their hands. It doesn’t mean the teams are seriously considering it. Don’t put too much stock or hope into that throwaway line about the Atlantic Division being in there. The Nets are not going to trade Jason Kidd for Larry Hughes, unless LeBron James is included in the deal. If there is a serious Atlantic Division trade partnet, I would keep an eye on the Sixers as the Cavs may try to see what it would take to get Andre Miller. The Cavs will volunteer Hughes for the deal, and after the Sixers are done laughing, they will consider a more realstic deal, perhaps involving guys like Damon Jones, Eric Snow, and Drew Gooden. Even then, I suspect any kind of trade would be a long shot because the Sixers will always be able to get a better deal for Andre Miller elsewhere.

The only kind of I could foresee involving the Washington Wizards and Larry Hughes would be a deal involving Antawn Jamison and his $16 million contract. Hughes and Damon Jones for Jamison is a deal the Cavs would definitely do from their end. From the Wizards point of view, if they suspect they will be unable to re-sign Jamison after this season, that could be some slight motivation to do the deal, as it would be a way to get a little something for losing Jamison. Furthermore, Larry Hughes and Gilbert Arenas are good friends, and Arenas has spoken publicly about his enjoyment of playing with Hughes, so perhaps the Wizards would see the addition of Hughes as a way of strengthening their case to Arenas as far as why he should stay with the team and not opt out of his deal.

It’s all likely just wishful thinking, though. Plus, after watching the Cavaliers play lately, it’s hard to believe that just adding a PG like Kidd or Miller would be the sole answer to the Cavs problems. Perhaps a dynamic offensive player like Jamison could be the answer, but it’s also easy to see Jamison falling into the role of Larry Hughes II. The truth of the matter is that the Cavs are so clearly more than just one “piece of the puzzle” away from being a real NBA Championship caliber team. That’s why it is so hard to quantify just what exactly the franchise can do to turn this team around.  It will be interesting to watch and see if moving Hughes becomes ‘Step One’ of the rebuilding phase, but I won’t be holding my breath.