Welcome Back: Joe Smith to Rejoin Cavaliers

Danny Ferry may have not landed a big front court addition before the trade deadline.  He also didn’t panic afterwards – despite the words quoted by Stephen A. Smith – by throwing money at players like Mikki Moore or Robert Horry.  Instead, he made the calculated move to patiently wait things out.  And when the dust finally settled, we can welcome back veteran forward Joe Smith who has reportedly agreed to terms with the Cavaliers.

Smith, whom I effectively referred to last season as the “Wild Card” after joining the Wine and Gold before the deadline, will bring much-needed size, leadership and offensive prowess to the front court of the 2009 version.  One that still features old teammates like Delonte West, LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, as well as new additions Mo Williams and J.J. Hickson. 

After the Cavaliers were passed aside by the Antonio McDyess’ of the world, fans can take pride in the fact that Smith apparently passed up joining the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Hornets and Denver Nuggets to rejoin the Cavs.  Granted, having nearly $3.5 million remaining from their midlevel exception helps – not wasting these dollars in the 2008 off-season now proved to be even more vital. 

In 27 games with the Cavaliers in 2008, Smith averaged eight points (on 51 percent shooting) to go with five rebounds.  Many fans will recall the Cavs’ win over the Boston Celtics during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals where Smith poured in 17 points with six rebounds a block in only 23 minutes of play.  For a big man, Smith boasts an outstanding mid-range jump shot (vital to the Cavs’ offense) and has a career true shooting percentage over 50 percent. 

For those of you keeping track, Danny Ferry traded away Smith and Damon Jones for Mo Williams back in August.  We now have Smith back with the team.  Thus, discounting the fact that Smith had to spend a little stint in Oklahoma City, Ferry effectively traded Damon Jones for Mo Williams.  Not too bad, eh? 

To add a bit to the addition of Smith, thinking here is that his role may be even larger than originally intended.  It appears that he’ll come off of the bench behind Anderson Varejao to help on the offensive side of things with the second crew.  Brian Windhorst mentioned that he’ll provide depth when Ben Wallace returns from his leg injury, but from what I’m hearing, the “six” in the four-to-six week recovery is more likely than anything.  I would not count out a stint longer than this, but Wallace will at least be reevaluated in three weeks to determine the extent of this absence.  Thus, Smith’s agreement to come back to Cleveland becomes that much more impactful. 

And if you’re wondering, reports are that Joe Smith will not dress for tonight’s game.  I would expect him to be in Dan Gilbert’s suite, similar to how Wally, Delonte and Ben were during last year’s transactions – ironically the same night that Damon Jones manhandled the Wizards, never to be heard from again. 

Danny Ferry.  Exec of the Year?  I guess the answer to this will come in a few months.  Look for Smith this Friday as we take on the Celtics.  Speaking of…

What others are saying:

“Danny Ainge pulled some genius moves last year to get the Celtics Banner 17.  But that magic hasn’t quite carried over to this year.  The Patrick O’Bryant signing was a total bust.  Sam Cassell never got off the bench.  We’ll have to wait and see how the Stephon Marbury deal works out.  And now with Joe Smith and Drew Gooden being waived, the question is… Did Danny Ainge blow it by moving on Mikki Moore so quickly? Red’s Army (Celtics)

“Joe Smith has had a long career, and most of that career has been spent on very bad teams. He never even got out of the first round of the playoffs until his 07-08 run for Cleveland.  The only big issue here is the question of why he accepted the buyout after saying time and time again that he would refuse, because chasing a ring was just “not his thing”. I missed the Sports Animal interview, but my best guess was that he made that statement under the assumption that he would actually play for the team. After the statement, he’s seen no minutes, and probably was eschewed in favour of Malik Rose on the Depth Chart. Thus, he left the team because he wants to play.” Blue Blitz (Thunder)

“Smith doesn’t make the Cavs a world-beater: It’s not like they just injected some 16-point, 11-rebound monster into the middle of the lineup overnight. But if Smith simply replicates the 8.1 points on 51.2 percent shooting and 5.0 rebounds in 21 minutes per game that he had in 27 games for the Cavs last year down the stretch, then that alone is a tremendous boost.” [Cavalier Attitude]

“Could impatience be the biggest factor in deciding this year’s championship?  The Celtics had to know that Smith was being released.  The writing had been on the wall all season, and he could have been this season’s P.J. Brown (i.e. veteran power forward that can grab boards, play in the post and step out for a 15-footer when needed).  Maybe Gooden being released wasn’t as obvious, but why not wait until now to see who would become available that could help you in the playoffs?”  []