J.J. Hickson's role in deadline trade deals becoming more unlikely

Brian Windhorst, The Plain Dealer

As negotiations hit their homestretch ahead of next week’s trade
deadline, there seems to be a point crystallizing when it comes to the
Cavaliers’ position.

League executives who have been speaking with the Cavs and other
sources also involved in talks say that whether or not the Cavs make a
deal may come down to J.J. Hickson. Simply, several teams want Hickson
included in any trade package and, to this point, the Cavs have been
balking at many of them. Hickson is not untouchable, but the team has
made it clear in talks that it would take a special offer to get him.

The Cavs had hoped to force some teams to make a decision on offers by this week, prior to the All-Star Game. But right now, executives say, the market is frozen as everyone is waiting for the first move. The Cavs, however, have stood firm to the position that they are willing to take on money past this season but unwilling to offer up their talented young forward.

The Cavs have also been reluctant to give up their first-round pick for this draft in talks as well, sources said.

There is an easy explanation. With the Cavaliers serving as buyers in a market in which teams are working hard to reduce payrolls, they are attempting to use leverage and wait on teams to bend to make a pure money deal. In other words, exactly how they traded for Shaquille O’Neal last summer.

By Feb. 18, the last day teams can clear off salary for next season, holding firm and not offering Hickson might work with teams desperate to save millions. Or it might not as they go with other options.


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