There was a lot of chatter about the Cleveland Cavaliers and the lack of moves the team was making heading into Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.
LeBron James was unhappy to the point where he was cussing out executives over the Cavs seeming not wanting to make a move to help bolster not only the roster, but the championship aspirations and keeping James after the season.
On Thursday, the Cavaliers dominated the NBA trade deadline by making three separate trades, all reported by Adrian Wojnarowski.
The first came just before noon eastern when Woj reported the Cavs were sending Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and a 2018 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
This ended the short relationship between Cleveland and Thomas, who was involved in the Kyrie Irving trade over the summer. The Lakers were also winners in this trade as they were able to shed Clarkson’s salary and open up space for two max contracts, whether they go after free agents in 2018 or wait for an even deeper class in 2019.
Thomas has not been the same since returning from offseason hip surgery and has arguably been the worst player in the league over the past 15 games since debuting.
Shortly after that trade was reported, Woj dropped another bomb as the Cavs were involved in a three-team deal. Cleveland sent Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder to Utah and Iman Shumpert to Sacramento, in exchange for Rodney Hood and George Hill.
Hood and Hill will both be upgrades in the back court for Cleveland. Hill has been rumored as a Cavs trade target in the past and now that rumor is a reality.
The final and most surprising deal of the day for the Cavs was sending Dwyane Wade back to Miami for a future second-round pick. Wade is reunited with the team where he played his entire career before going to Chicago and then Cleveland. James was happy for his best friend for getting the chance to return to the place he once called home and brought the city multiple NBA championships.
The biggest piece in all of these trades was the fact that the Cavs did not give up the Brooklyn Nets pick, which will be a lottery pick this June. That is a big chip to have in hopes to convince James to stay put in Cleveland. The team also did not give up Kevin Love, Tristian Thompson or J.R. Smith.
Are the Cavaliers now the favorite yet again in the East? There is plenty of time from now until the Eastern Conference Finals, but they are a lot better off than they were prior to Thursday. The Boston Celtics, who were the favorite for a majority of this season, despite losing Gordon Heyward on opening night, have to be a little fearful of James and a younger, more athletic team.
Did the Cavs do enough to be able to take down the Warriors in June, should we see the rematch for a fourth-consecutive year? That likely won’t do the trick as the Warriors are loaded and seemingly unstoppable when motivated. However, this does close the gap a little bit, but not enough to beat the Warriors four times in two weeks.
For a team mired in controversy over the last few weeks due to team chemistry issues, not making any moves before the trade deadline and LeBron’s growing frustration, the team sure did hit a home run ahead of Thursday’s deadline. The team got better, while getting younger, without giving up a coveted draft pick, which they will use in the pitch to get LeBron to stay home and not explore other options.