A few days after the trade deadline of the National Basketball Association (NBA), one perennial title contender has a more promising lineup, while another did not make any unnecessary changes.
The team that looks like a winner is the Cleveland Cavaliers, which has had a major makeover. In contrast, the Golden State Warriors made no lineup changes. The Houston Rockets added Joe Johnson and two other veterans, further strengthening themselves.
Before the trade deadline, a friend and I talked about who should be dealt by the Cavs. This was after Kevin Love had gotten injured, and therefore no longer tradable. I suggested that the Cavs traded Isaiah Thomas, which in fact they eventually did.
The friend argued that Thomas had just been in a trade so why should he be traded again? He said that it would not be the fault of the player anymore, if he got traded again. But the Cavs were in a horrible losing streak and suffering from multiple blow-out losses. I even joked that they were playing the kind of basketball that made you dumb about the game.
We know that Thomas is still recovering from an injury and was still taking time to get his old game back. Why should he do so at the expense of the team?
Thus, Thomas, who has an expiring contract this season, was shipped off to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Cavs actually traded away Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Channing Frye, and the problematic Thomas.
On the flipside, the Cavs wanted and got George Hill and Rodney Hood from the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz, respectively, as well as Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. from the Los Angeles Lakers.
It is a bit surprising that Cleveland traded Dwayne Wade, who is on a veteran’s minimum salary, back to Miami and separated him from old pal LeBron James. It is less surprising that Cleveland also let go of Jae Crowder—my friend wondered what business did this player have shooting threes, when he should be using his strength inside the paint. As for Derrick Rose, who is also on a veteran’s minimum salary, he has shown he still has that shoot-first-pass-later style-of-playing, so off he went to the Utah Jazz, which has waived him. His individual style of play took its toll on the Cavs. In contrast, George Hill is a 10-year veteran who can orchestrate Cavs coach Tyrone Lue’s offensive patterns. For his part, Rodney Hood is shooting 39 percent from three-point country.
The way Lue explains it, James is still the team’s number one offensive option, while it could be any player for the second option on any given night. They got Nance, Jr., too, another big guy who could be handy with Kevin Love’s latest injury. His father, Larry Nance, Sr., played for the Cavs in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Meanwhile, Cleveland absorbed Clarkson’s $26-million salary over the next two seasons, but the player, who is all of 25 years old, has been doing well offensively with the Lakers, so he will be an instant additional firepower for the Cavs.
From a team that was headed nowhere before the trade deadline, Cleveland should be happy with its new additions. They were being dumped and dunked on just before the trade deadline. Depending on whether they can jell in time, it should start to be fun watching them again.