Written by Erik Cassano

Erik Cassano
Cassano's latest piece addresses the rumors in the Chicago Tribune that Larry Hughes is unhappy with his role in Cleveland, and has told friends in the league he wants out. Could the Cavaliers deal Hughes and resign Flip Murray, who would be a cheaper alternative? If true, will this affect the Cavs draft strategy Wednesday night?  Visit the Papa Cass weblog at http://papacass.blogspot.com/

When the Cavaliers signed Larry Hughes last summer, they had supposedly found their long-sought scoring compliment to LeBron James.

But now, there might be trouble in paradise if Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune is correct.

In his weekly notes column , Smith reports that Hughes is dissatisfied with his role on the team and wants out. He goes on to report that the Cavs would be more than happy to accommodate Hughes' request if it would free up enough cap space to re-sign Flip Murray.

Much like the earlier Drew Gooden-for-Jamaal Magloire rumor, we can only hope this is a case of a big-market columnist with too many column inches to fill, stirring the rumor pot to get a reaction.

Unless Hughes yields another high-output shooting guard like Atlanta's Joe Johnson, trading him won't make the Cavs better.

Trading him for another shooting guard is a risky proposition, certainly as the Cavs are trying (or should be trying) to stabilize the roster around LeBron after several straight offseasons of upheaval.

But trading Hughes off for draft picks or expiring contracts with the idea that Murray is going to step in seamlessly is downright shortsighted. It wouldn't quite be Ron Harper-for-Danny Ferry, but it would be another colossal Cleveland blunder that could set the Cavs back years.

We all like Murray. He was a clutch pick-up by GM Ferry, and he saved the Cavs' bacon when they needed it most. But the prospect of Murray as a three-month stopgap is quite different than the prospect of him as the shooting guard of the future.

Hopefully, Ferry hasn't fallen in love with his one-time ability to uncover a diamond in the rough. Someone needs to tell Ferry that he does not necessarily have a knack for mining diamonds just because he snagged Murray for peanuts.

Yesterday's front-office genius is tomorrow's goat. Look at Mark Shapiro.

Water finds its level over the course of time, and the level is that Murray isn't as good as Hughes. Less injury-prone, yes, but a nonexistent defender and, hot stretch run aside, not a very good shooter. If we get a chance to watch Murray over the span of four or five years, we will see that clearly.

Neither Hughes nor Murray had a very good postseason. But Hughes at least had the excuse of 45 missed games and two hand surgeries in as many months.

Which makes his alleged discontent with his role on the team all the more perplexing. Hughes, more than anyone, should be able to chalk up his first season in Cleveland to a lost cause. He never really got into a rhythm prior to his injury, and by the time he arrived back in uniform, Murray was present and the Cavs had learned to make do without Hughes.

It doesn't mean Hughes is no longer important to the team. But according to Smith, he spent much of the Washington series griping to his former Wizards teammates about his role with the Cavs and questioning whether he really fits in here. Maybe it was hurt feelings on the part of Hughes. Maybe it was just banter between friends and ex-teammates that somehow found its way onto the pages of the Tribune. Maybe Smith is just yanking our chains.

Consider the source as well. Smith has been one of the loudest hornblowers on the "LeBron needs to move to a big market" bandwagon. In previous columns, he has trashed Ferry's competence at building a respectable roster around LeBron. He has said that LeBron playing in New York would be "huge" for the league. Since LeBron is apparently happy playing in Cleveland for now, Smith must think the only way LeBron is going to get jarred loose from his small-market habitat is for his team to betray him with a series of bad roster moves.

I'm sure few things would make Smith happier than to see the Cavs self-destruct to the point that LeBron wants out of Cleveland.

But Smith is just a guy sitting in front of a keyboard 300 miles away. The people I'm mostly concerned with are Ferry and Hughes. If it's all true, Hughes and his team have some patching up to do before the Cavs make a trade they could really regret in the coming years.