The trade deadline is truly a magical time for NBA fans. Even after several predictions that this year’s deadline would be quiet, this Thursday morning has been anything but. Undoubtedly, the most active of any team today (maybe any team ever) were the infamous Cleveland Cavaliers. They’re now a completely different team. Chronologically, the moves are as follows:
- Cleveland gets: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.
- Los Angeles gets: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Cavs’ 2018 1st-Rounder
The writing was all over the wall for Isaiah Thomas. After his very public discontentedness with the Cavs (involving disagreements with head coach Tyronn Lue and frustration with the team sometimes not, ya know, feeling like a team), it’s no surprise that the 5’9 guard was traded. Apart from the locker room dysfunction, Thomas was terrible for the Cavs when he wasn’t recovering from hip surgery or sitting out 4th quarters in favor of Cedi Osman. His efficiency is god awful, as he’s averaging 36% from the field, 25% from three, with an EFG of .418. Thomas has been even worse defensively, as when he’s on the court the Cavs give up 116 points per 100 possessions (per basketball-reference)
The Lakers are taking a gamble on Thomas, but a relatively safe one as not only are they receiving a first-round pick in the deal but a good amount of salary relief too as they clear Jordan Clarkson’s remaining $37,000,000 salary over the next 3 years. Clarkson isn’t a huge difference maker for the Cavs, but he’ll provide some much needed and (hopefully) consistent shot-creation and scoring from the backcourt, something they’ve lacked all season.
You could make the argument that Larry Nance Jr. was the best player moved in the deal. He’s a young, bouncy 6’9 big that has enough defensive versatility to be considered the Cavs’ now best option at center.
- Cleveland gets: Rodney Hood, George Hill
- Utah gets: Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose
- Sacramento gets: Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert, Heat’s 2020 2nd-Rounder
The Cavs got back the two best players in this deal. Rodney Hood has shown to be a gifted scorer in the league, as he’s putting up 21.8 points per 36 minutes (per basketball-reference) and he’s only 25 years old. George Hill’s contract isn’t amazing – he’s getting paid $19 million for this season and next (with a non-guaranteed team option in the third year), but the money is worth it. Hill has always been a steady offensive option throughout his career and provides a decent amount of defense in their turnstile of a backcourt.
Crowder and Rose have both been busts this year for Cleveland. Crowder, despite being one of the Cavs’ only plus defenders, has been absolutely horrendous offensively. Utah and Quin Snyder’s motion offense may revive Crowder’s shooting touch, but it was never coming back in Cleveland. And despite being a former MVP, Derrick Rose was simply salary filler in this deal. He was waived by Utah shortly after the trade was announced and it’s looking like he’ll soon be suiting up in Minnesota. (Goddamnit Thibs)
This deal was also simply salary relief for Sacramento. Though Shumpert’s $11 million for the next two years isn’t pretty, it’s much better than Hill’s aforementioned $19 million.
- Cleveland gets: Heavily protected 2nd-rounder
- Miami gets: Dwyane Wade
This is a fun one. Wade gets to go back to Miami (his wife, Gabrielle, seems extra excited about it) and live out the rest of his days on the beach. On the court though, the move does make some sense for Cleveland. After getting both Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson, Wade becomes pretty unnecessary. Despite having moments of being the only spark on a puttering Cleveland bench, Wade’s age and shooting limits still shine through. He can’t keep up with most guards defensively, he’s too slow to get to the rim like he used to, and his shooting problems still clog the paint for LeBron. His removal clears room for Rodney Hood, Hill, and Clarkson to soak up any minutes the 36-year-old legend might have gotten.
Overall, Cleveland has probably gotten better with all these moves. They cut their losses with IT and Crowder, got significantly younger, and still managed to keep the 2018 Brooklyn pick. This was a pretty good trade deadline for the Cavs. They’ll still get exterminated and eradicated and ultimately eliminated by the Warriors, but at this point, who cares? The Cavs tried to save this season and built for the future this Thursday. That’s a win.