Biggs gives insight to Cleveland’s NBA trade-deadline moves

Published 9:35 pm Thursday, February 8, 2018

Thursday marked the trade deadline for the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers scrapped the aging roster that had underwhelmed up until this point. They entered deadline day with a 31-22 record uncharacteristic of a team that has gone to three-straight NBA finals against the Golden State Warriors.

The Cavaliers dealt six players Thursday: Dwayne Wade, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose, Channing Frye and, most shockingly, Isaiah Thomas. Thomas came to Cleveland in the offseason as part of a blockbuster deal that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston.

Thomas, Crowder and Wade ranked fourth, fifth and sixth in average minutes played, respectively.

In return, the Cavaliers welcomed in George Hill, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood. The moves addressed Cleveland’s struggles by surrounding LeBron James with younger shooters and some adding defenders capable of helping Cleveland’s second-to-last ranked defense.

The moves don’t come without their repercussions. Cleveland’s woes likely won’t end right away. Washington basketball coach Ralph Biggs knows first-hand that it takes time to build chemistry with new teammates. Biggs played four years of collegiate basketball at Towson and played professionally overseas from 1998-2014.

“From experience, I know that when we would switch out players in February for the playoff run, it’s difficult to build chemistry,” he said. “You get new energy, but you’re not familiar with each other. That makes it hard. You got to find what each other likes and dislikes so you can play with each other.

“You’ve got to put in a lot of practice time, so I hope they’re ready to practice.”

Biggs said that, in his experience, it can take up to a month to get to that point where players are comfortable with one another. He does think that the skill of NBA players will expedite the process.

“I’d say, for them, it’ll take two weeks and they’ll be familiar with each other,” Biggs said.

There are so many intricacies to consider. The game speed of NBA basketball makes it so that each split second counts. Each player on the court need to have an understanding of where the other four are at all times.

“Knowing how a guy likes the ball passed to him makes a big difference. He may like to catch it high to shoot or low to shoot,” Biggs explained. “As a point guard, if you don’t know that for your shooter, that half a second means you’re not open anymore.

“It’s those little things — those nuances — that you’ve got to work on with each other. … The skills, they all have them, so it’s the little things that make a difference.”

But Cleveland was in a situation where it needed to shake things up. Any team with James should expect to be competing for a championship. Biggs has been in situations where his teams had high hopes, but underperformed.

Trades made the difference for him. Telindus Oostende (now known as B.C. Oostende) made some moves in the 2001-02 season and ended up winning the Belgian League.

“We were expecting to win a championship, but the pieces weren’t fitting together and we got stale,” Biggs said. “You’ve got to make a change if you plateau and you’re the best you can be. … When you have a player like LeBron James, you’ve got to take those opportunities, make those changes and see what you can do.”