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Big Move for Cavs on Deadline Day

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[February 22, 2008]  MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers gave LeBron James the help he wants -- maybe enough to compete for the ring he craves. The Cavaliers took part in the biggest trade of deadline day, landing center Ben Wallace and swingman Wally Szczerbiak on Thursday in a three-team deal with Chicago and Seattle.

Wallace provides the Cavs with rebounding, shot blocking and plenty of playoff experience. Szczerbiak's outside shooting could make teams pay for double-teaming James, the NBA's leading scorer who hoped his team could pull off a move.

"When you have a superstar like LeBron James, it's important to be able to put shooters around him," Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said. "When you have guys who make the extra passes, having somebody to knock down that shot is big."

There were four other deals, ending a busy trading season that included the earlier blockbusters involving Pau Gasol, Shaquille O'Neal and Jason Kidd. Those players all went to Western Conference powers, and the New Orleans Hornets completed a deal they hope proves they are one of them.

The Hornets acquired Bonzi Wells and Mike James from Houston, adding depth to their bench for the stretch run. New Orleans dealt Bobby Jackson to the Rockets, where he was reunited with Rick Adelman, his old coach in Sacramento. Adam Haluska also went to Houston in the deal, which also included Memphis.

The bolder move was made by the Cavs, who went to the NBA finals last year but are well behind Boston and Detroit in the East this season.

The Cavaliers sent guard Larry Hughes, forwards Drew Gooden and Cedric Simmons, and guard Shannon Brown to Chicago for Wallace, one of the game's top inside enforcers, and forward Joe Smith.

Cleveland acquired the sharpshooting Szczerbiak and guard Delonte West from Seattle for forwards Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall. The SuperSonics will receive guard Adrian Griffin from the Bulls.

"I didn't think we were good enough to win the championship," Ferry said, explaining his motives for the move. "I thought we had a very good team. But I do believe if we have a chance to make ourselves better we should try.

"Was it a risk in doing so? Yes, it was a risk. But we're going to have to make some decisions that have some risk in them if we want to continue to build and grow."

Wallace was a disappointment after leaving Detroit, where he was the defensive anchor of the 2004 NBA champions, to sign a $60 million, four-year contract with the Bulls in 2006. The trade allows Chicago to get out from under some of that.

"He was a great teammate," Chicago's Ben Gordon said. "I think he definitely helped us to get to the second round of the playoffs last season. I guess management felt that they didn't reach expectations that they wanted him to. That's part of the business."

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Hughes also struggled to live up to the big contract he signed in Cleveland, and was hurt last year when the Cavs reached the finals. The Sonics continued their goal of trying to build for the future.

Also Thursday:

-The Toronto Raptors acquired center Primoz Brezec and cash from the Detroit Pistons for guard Juan Dixon.

-The Minnesota Timberwolves traded seldom-used swingman Gerald Green Houston for shooting guard Kirk Snyder.

-The Portland Trail Blazers acquired guard Von Wafer from the Denver Nuggets for guard Taurean Green.

Denver was hoping to do something bigger to compete with the top teams in the West, but apparently all the big deals were already done.

The Los Angeles Lakers started the blockbuster season when they acquired Gasol from Memphis. The Suns got O'Neal to Phoenix for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks, and the Mavericks finally brought Kidd back to his original team on Tuesday in their deal with New Jersey.

San Antonio made a deal Wednesday, acquiring veteran forward Kurt Thomas from Seattle.

Those teams are all chasing the Hornets, the surprising leaders of the West. The Hornets say they didn't make their deal for Wells and James to keep up with the moves made before them.

"It wasn't as a reaction to these other deals because we had interest and were looking hard at that before all those other deals took place," Hornets general manager Jeff Bower said. "Those other deals really didn't influence us. We thought this was a good deal and a way to help our team, completely separate from what everybody else had done. We were trying to get a little more support."

[Associated Press; By BRIAN MAHONEY]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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