For a minute there (OK, for months and months, beginning with summer’s siesta), we were all deathly afraid that we’d lost Danny Ferry.
As the NBA trading deadline drew nearer and nearer, we cautiously approached the foot of the stairs just below his room.
“You hear anything? Anything at all?” I asked.
And you answered, “Not a peep. I don’t hear footsteps even.”
More time passed and then the trading deadline was really getting closer.
“Let’s go upstairs,” I suggested.
And so we went, on tippytoe, with our Nikes in hand. We went right up to his door. And knocked on it. Gently. No answer.
We put our ears to the door, we did. And this is what we heard: “Zzzzzzzzzzzzz ...”
Two days before the trade deadline we heard the alarm go off from the upstairs bedroom. It went off for a long time. Long ringing sound … muffled.
“Did it wind down or did he hear it and shut it off himself?” you asked.
“Dunno. We better go up and check,” I said.
So back up the stairs we went, with our fingers to our lips. Just in case he was going to sleep in. Again.
We put our ears to the door you and I and listened.
“I could be mistaken,” you said, “but I think I hear the sound of stocking feet padding across a hardwood floor.”
More listening going on. Ears nailed to the door.
“WAIT. I THINK … YESSSSS … I HEAR TALKING … HE’S ON A CELL PHONE!” I cried.
We crept back down the stairs and huddled on the bottom step, chewing on our nails.
“I can’t believe he’s actually up and in a vertical position. And talking on the phone even,” you whispered.
“I want to weep for joy,” I answered. “He’s being a real GM. Up on the balls of his feet and all — just like real GMs in the league we’ve read about.”
From the TV room, we heard one of the NBA experts on ESPN say, “As we speak, we understand the Cavaliers are working on a trade, perhaps two of them, but we are just a minute from the trading deadline.”
Crestfallen we were. We whimpered and chewed our nails there on the bottom step like a 9-year-old who just discovered she wouldn’t be getting tickets to a Hannah Montana concert.
NBA studio commentator Jay Bilas labeled the Cavaliers the “biggest loser” of the day for failing to make a deal. His sidekick concurred. “If they don’t do a deal, they lose out big-time,” the sidekick said.
We hugged each other on the bottom step, you and I did, wallowing in our misery. Was comforting, it was. It’s what we do in Cleveland. We wallow.
Right about then, just for the heck of it, we played a game of “What If…?” It went like this: What if you could make a trade or two, name three Cavs you would want to see go in the deal.
“That’s easy,” we cried in unison. “Larry Hughes … Donyell Marshall … Ira Newble.”
We hooked our littlest fingers around one another and shook. Cuz we spoke in unison and all.
And then the door at the top of the stairs was flung open and Ferry emerged, announcing his two trades.
I gotta say it: If he had unloaded Hughes … and Marshall … and Newble … and gotten back a pair of winter Crocs (with the fur inside) plus a guided tour of the phone operator’s lair at the Chronicle Telegram, you and I would have been ecstatic. Anything above that would be, well … gravy.
The gravy turned out to be Big, Bad Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, PLUS a second-round draft pick.
OK, we lost Drew Gooden. A plugger, Gooden was. An honest-effort guy. Some nights he brought offensive rebounds. Other nights he brought scoring punch. But he seldom brought both things together or on consecutive nights. We wanted to love him because he was the guy who took the villain Carlos Boozer’s spot, but in the end we loved him like you would a distant cousin.
Lost Shannon Brown, too. He could still turn out to be a player, but he wasn’t going to get that chance here. There was another guy, someone who goes by the name of Simmons, but we have never heard of him. They say he sometimes showed up in street clothes at the very end of the bench. In other words, a nonentity.
So there you have it: Ferry not only climbed out of bed at the trading deadline but he managed to siphon off three players who were circling the drain like cock-a-roaches with the water turned on full blast.
(Myself, I always considered a 6-foot-11 guy who really only liked to shoot threes as being somewhat of a waste. Is somewhat akin to a giraffe pecking for seeds at the base of a tree instead of plucking pears off the high branches.)
For the stretch run — and the playoffs — the Cavaliers now bring serious muscle under the boards. Have ourselves some redwoods there. There’s Zee and Big Bad Ben and Varejao. Plus Joe Smith who hasn’t been quite the player he was cracked up to be coming out of Maryland, but is still a player.
Love The Szczerbiak. He’s a flat-out shooter, and has some rugged to him, and will take Soft Sasha’s (Pavlovic) place.
Delonte West is probably the weakest addition, which is too bad because he plays the position — point guard — where help was most needed.
But once Ferry made the decision NOT to trade for Jason Kidd or Mike Bibby, there just weren’t any sexy point guards to be had. (Not counting Chris Paul or Tony Parker, my new favorite point guard is Jose Calderon of Toronto. He’s from Spain, is playing lights out and is still mostly a secret.)
As for that second-round draft pick, well … we got “Booby” Gibson in the second round and he turned out to be better than First Round Brown.
Now I ask you: What’s not to love about these trades? Why … God willing and the creek don’t rise and Szczerbiak doesn’t get hurt again and Delonte turns out to be semi-delicious … it could even mean a championship. A guy can dream can’t he? Certainly, LeBron is. His prayers … and his nagging … have gone answered.
And now, just because he deserves it, Danny Ferry can go back to his room and take a nap — or do whatever it is GMs do when they aren’t making trades.
Contact Doug Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org.