Cavaliers acquire Bucks#8217; Williams

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — The Cleveland Cavaliers are getting some help for LeBron James.

High-scoring Milwaukee point guard Mo Williams is headed to Cleveland to join James as part of a three-team trade that also involves Oklahoma City.

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The six-player deal completed Wednesday reshapes the rebuilding Bucks while giving Cleveland an additional scoring threat and sends forward Desmond Mason to Oklahoma, where he’s already a fan favorite.

‘‘Acquiring Mo strengthens our nucleus of players for both the short and long term. He is entering his prime NBA years and will be part of the foundation of our future success,’’ Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement. ‘‘His ability to push the tempo, get inside the lane, shoot from the perimeter and distribute the ball will be very valuable for us.’’

The trade was previously reported by and media outlets in all three markets.

The Cavs have long sought a scorer to take pressure off James, who led the NBA last season with a 30.0 scoring average.

James’ lack of help was particularly noticeable in Cleveland’s Game 7 loss to Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals when he scored 45 of the Cavs’ 92 points.

Larry Hughes was supposed to be James’ sidekick, but couldn’t fulfill the role and was sent to Chicago last year at the trade deadline in a 10-player deal.

Cleveland also has been searching for years for a point guard, and considered trades in the past for Mike Bibby and Jason Kidd, but never made a deal.

Williams’ agent, Mark Bartelstein, said a scoring-minded point guard will make it easier on James and sharpshooter Daniel Gibson.

‘‘I think there was so much pressure on LeBron to create so much of the offense in Cleveland,’’ Bartelstein told The Associated Press.

‘‘I think somebody like Mo is going to really make the game easier for LeBron and create opportunities for other people.’’

In exchange for Williams, who averaged 17.2 points per game last season in the first year of a six-year, $51.5 million contract, the Bucks will receive Damon Jones from Cleveland along with guard Luke Ridnour and forward Adrian Griffin from Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City will get veteran forward Joe Smith from Cleveland and Mason from Milwaukee. Mason played in college at Oklahoma State and spent time with the Hornets franchise in Oklahoma City when it was relocated after Hurricane Katrina.

‘‘We’re excited,’’ said Mason’s agent, Roger Montgomery. ‘‘He’s been to Oklahoma City, he’s familiar with the people there, he’s familiar with the Ford Center, he’s played there, the fans loved him when he was there. His nickname is the Cowboy. It’s really apropos to come back.’’

Ridnour, who averaged 6.4 points and four assists last season as the backup to Earl Watson in Seattle, had faced decreased playing time in Oklahoma City after the franchise drafted point guard Russell Westbrook with the fourth pick.

Griffin averaged 1.9 points in minimal playing time after coming over from Chicago in a midseason trade.

For the Bucks, it’s the next step in an offseason facelift by new general manager John Hammond. Milwaukee fired coach Larry Krystkowiak after going 26-56 last season and replaced him with Scott Skiles.

The Bucks then sent Yi Jianlian to New Jersey in exchange for forward Richard Jefferson and added forward Joe Alexander with the eighth pick in the draft.

Milwaukee also signed guard Tyronn Lue and forward Malik Allen in an effort to bolster what has been one of the league’s worst defenses.

‘‘Our challenge from Day One has been to shape our roster in a way that our fans will see a team that is competitive, that plays hard every night and has a chance to win,’’ Hammond said. ‘‘We feel this trade continues to move us toward that goal for this season and beyond.’’


AP Sports Writers Chris Jenkins in Milwaukee, Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City and Associated Press Writer Joe Milicia in Cleveland contributed to this report.