Brian Windhorst is reporting that Joe Smith has reached a buyout agreement with the Oklahoma City Thunder and will be joining Cavs in time for their game Wednesday. This is a move most Cavs fans have been waiting for since Smith was traded in the deal that netted Mo Williams. (In retrospect that trade was basically Damon Jones for Mo - not a bad swap - an All Star for someone out of the league).
Before the injury to Ben Wallace, bringing back Joe Smith would have provided needed depth and an additional big man for the playoffs. After Wallace's injury, bringing back Smith fills a necessity. The chances of the Cavs winning a championship running out Z, Andy and J.J. Hickson to compete with the Pau Gasols, Lamar Odoms and Kevin Garnett was rather slim.
Smith is the least disruptive option the Cavs had to replace Wallace. Though other names were thrown out as possibilities, Drew Gooden, Carlos Boozer, and Rasheed Wallace - bringing back Smith avoids the baggage of these other players. Having played with the Cavs last year, Smith knows the system and the players. Bringing in anyone else would have required an adjustment period, a mending of egos, and a counseling of an entire city. Mike Brown is familiar with Smith and knows who he compliments. If I were Mike Brown, I would start Joe, moving Andy back to the bench, where he has shown himself to be most effective - providing his burst of energy off the bench.
Though Smith is in the midst of his worst statistical season, there is no reason to think that he can't provide numbers similar, if not better, than the 8 pts, and 5 boards that he averaged last year with the Cavs (in about 20 minutes per game). Considering what Wallace gave the Cavs offensively each night, Smith will no doubt provide a better offensive threat. Where Smith really needs to focus is on his defensive intensity - this is where the loss of Wallace will be felt the most. Joe doesn't need to dominate the middle, rather, he needs to control it - providing a presence that prevents the type of big performance that the Cavs have shown themselves susceptible to this season (see Yao Ming and Lamar Odom). The fact that Smith hasn't played in about three weeks hopefully means that he'll be fresh for the important run for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.
I'm glad to see Danny Ferry and the Cavs taking the necessary steps to put this team in the best position to bring a championship home this season. With Wallace's injury, bringing back Smith is the smartest option for the team's ultimate success this year.