James likes what he sees

Washington's Andray Blatche (left) and Antawn Jamison make an Eric Snow sandwich, forcing the Cavalier to lose the ball in the first quarter in Cleveland. Washington's Andray Blatche (left) and Antawn Jamison make an Eric Snow sandwich, forcing the Cavalier to lose the ball in the first quarter in Cleveland. (Mark Duncan/Associated Press)
Email|Print| Text size + By Tom Withers
Associated Press / February 23, 2008

CLEVELAND - LeBron James danced in his seat. Guess he likes the trades.

James, who had been hoping the Cavaliers would pull the trigger on a deal prior to Thursday's trading deadline, gave his stamp of approval to the club's acquisition of Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith, and Delonte West - four players the Cavaliers feel can get them an NBA title.

"I'm excited," he said.

Jason Kidd may have been James's No. 1 choice, but he wasn't complaining about Cleveland's new quartet.

"This isn't the type of deal I expected," he said before last night's game with Washington. "You guys heard what I wanted but I am grateful for the situation. We got some good-caliber guys that are coming in."

By adding Wallace and Smith, James feels Cleveland has improved its frontcourt. And in Szczerbiak, he's getting a pure perimeter shooter.

"We've added some depth to our front line, which we needed, and we added some more shooting, which we needed," James said. "We don't have much time, but what is good about the guys that came in is that they have playoff experience."

During a timeout in the first quarter, Wallace, Szczerbiak, Smith, and West received a standing ovation as they watched the game from a luxury suite. "Welcome to the Family" was shown on the giant scoreboard.

The four took their physicals but won't make their debuts until tomorrow.

A few minutes later, James broke out a few dance moves as he sat in his chair on Cleveland's sparsely populated bench.

From his seat, Szczerbiak began imagining what it will be like to be on the floor as James's teammate.

"I was just marveling at how he puts everyone in slow-motion out there," Szczerbiak said. "He looks like he's moving at a different speed."

With only six healthy players able to suit up, the Cavaliers, who traded six others away in the three-team blockbuster, signed Kaniel Dickens and Billy Thomas from the NBA's Developmental League yesterday so they'd have enough players to face the Wizards.

"I've never been in a situation where we called guys up just to be able to play a game," Cavaliers guard Eric Snow said after the morning shootaround. "It's the NBA, I can't say I'm surprised."

Dickens was stunned when he got the call. "I dropped my fork and my knife, ran out on my bill, went home and packed some things, and made it to the airport," he said, joking about the bill. "It just happened so fast."

So did Cleveland's trade, which included 11 players and gutted half the defending Eastern Conference champions' active roster.

General manager Danny Ferry made the deals to give his team a shot at an NBA title. It was strange watching the Cavaliers exit the practice floor without any sign of Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall, Ira Newble, Shannon Brown, or Cedric Simmons.

In the meantime, coach Mike Brown has to make due with what he's got. He understands it may take time for his revamped team to mesh. Except for West, he's getting experienced players who won't need to have their hands held as they learn a new system.

"These guys have been around the block," he said. "They are smart guys and that will make it easier."

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