Cavs' last-minute trade for Szczerbiak, Wallace pleases LeBron

Updated: February 23, 2008, 7:36 PM ET
Associated Press

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 Cavs feel can get them an NBA title.

"I'm excited," he said.

Jason Kidd may have been James' 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 Friday's 90-89 win over Washington. "You guys heard what I wanted but I am grateful for the situation. We got some good caliber guys that are coming in. It was very surprising, you come into the locker room today and it is very different."

By adding Wallace and Smith, James feels Cleveland has improved its frontcourt. And in Szczerbiak, he's getting one the league's purest perimeter shooters.

"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 Sunday.

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

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 on Friday 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," Cavs 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 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 Cavs 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. Fortunately, he's got James.

"We do have LeBron," he said. "So that does help out."

Browns understands it may take time for his revamped team to mesh. But 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."

It's a little different for Dickens and Thomas, who both have NBA experience but have logged most their most playing minutes in the D-League. Both were playing for the Colorado 14ers when they got the call to quickly get to Cleveland.

For Dickens, who was averaging 20.4 points, the Cavaliers are just the latest stop on a globe-trotting basketball odyssey. This is the fourth time he's been called up, but his first on a 10-day contract.

One thing he hasn't done before is play with a superstar like James.

"From what I hear, he's going to make it very easy for me," Dickens said. "I just hope I don't get caught up in watching him play."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press