- The Cleveland Cavaliers completed two major trades one hour apart to give their team a totally different look.
- The Cavs appeared to get better on paper by getting younger, more athletic, and adding more shooting and defense.
- While there will be an adjustment period to integrate four new players, the locker room should also improve.
In one hour, the Cleveland Cavaliers basically got a brand-new basketball team.
With the trade deadline approaching, the Cavs first traded Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and their own first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
Then, an hour later, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cavs pulled off a massive three-team trade with the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings. The Cavs will receive Jazz guard-forward Rodney Hood and Kings guard George Hill while sending point guard Derrick Rose and forward Jae Crowder to the Jazz and guard Iman Shumpert to the Kings.
They weren’t done, either, then sending Dwyane Wade back to the Miami Heat in exchange for a second-round pick.
In total, the Cavs sent out six players who had been on the roster since training camp to acquire four new players and give the team an entirely new look.
On paper, the Cavs made good moves. They got younger – Hill is the only player older than 30. They got longer and more athletic – Clarkson, Nance, Hill, and Hood are all long, lanky, athletic players who can switch across multiple positions. And they got more shooting and perimeter defense.
This is the name of the game in the NBA, particularly if a team wants to contend with the Golden State Warriors. Shooting and two-way players are needed. LeBron James will still dictate the action, but Hill is perfectly capable as secondary playmaker, and he gives the Cavs a much-needed defensive presence on the perimeter. Hood can spread the floor and attack close-outs. Clarkson can be a reserve ball-handler and scorer while Nance’s athleticism should help the Cavs and he should benefit from the easy looks James and Co. can get him.
Of course, it’s also February and the season is more than halfway over. The Cavs will have to integrate four new major pieces into the rotation and hope that they can jell in time for the playoffs.
Yet even if the Cavs don’t assemble into a well-rounded super-team by April, the entire experience should be a lot less dramatic. Several reports indicated the locker room had formed into factions between newcomers and veteran Cavs players. The Cavs just shipped out four players who were new to the team while losing only two long-time members in Frye and Shumpert who were largely out of the rotation. And they kept the coveted Brooklyn Nets’ pick.
The moves seem to be geared toward not only improving the on-court product, but creating a more peaceful locker room. In the process, they may have given themselves a better shot at keeping the man at the center of it all this summer: LeBron James.