Ivey: After trade-deadline acquisitions, Cleveland is back
Michael Ivey | Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Remember about a week ago, when the Cleveland Cavaliers were 6-13 in their last 19 games dating back to Christmas Day, the players were questioning the legitimacy of a Kevin Love sickness and everyone in the locker room hated each other?
Man, those were the days.
Just one day after a thrilling win over the Minnesota Timberwolves that featured a LeBron James buzzer-beater, the Cavaliers rebuilt their entire roster. During last Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, Cleveland made three trades, shipping six players out of town and bringing four in, giving the organization fresh blood and completely changing the dynamic of the team.
Let’s take a look at each move.
The Cavaliers sent Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and their own protected 2018 first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
In a three-team trade with the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings, the Cavaliers sent Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose to Utah and Iman Shumpert and a 2020 second-round draft — pick via the Miami Heat — to Sacramento. In return, Cleveland received Rodney Hood from Utah and George Hill from Sacramento.
The Cavaliers sent Dwayne Wade to the Heat for a protected 2024 second-round draft pick.
There is obviously a lot to take in here, but let’s try.
The Thomas move could have been orchestrated purely to get Thomas out of Cleveland. Despite being a reliable point guard option on the court, Thomas made headlines for publicly criticizing the coaching staff and reportedly leading the opposition in the locker-room when the legitimacy of Love’s illness came into question. There was also an incident where Thomas insisted on delaying a video tribute the Boston Celtics made in his honor to the same night the Celtics were already scheduled to retire franchise-legend Paul Pierce’s jersey number. Many thought the request made by Thomas to delay the video tribute was unwarranted and led to unnecessary drama for both the Cavaliers and the Celtics.
Thomas might have been one of the main reasons the Cavaliers’ locker room became so toxic, so they attached Frye and a first-round draft pick with him in a trade to Los Angeles for two solid young players in Clarkson and Nance Jr., whose father played for the Cavs from 1988-1994.
The Cavaliers acquired Hood and Hill to get stronger at the guard position, which resulted in the aging Wade being the odd man out. Cleveland traded him to the Heat as a way of “doing right” by Wade, letting him finish his illustrious career where it began.
In addition to all of that, the Cavaliers got rid of several players that just weren’t getting the job done and/or were contributing to creating a bad locker-room environment for the rest of the team. By getting rid of those players and bringing in new, fresh-faced and reliable rotational players, the Cavaliers seem like a whole new team.
Since all of those moves were made last Thursday, Cleveland is 2-0 with both wins being by double digits. The Cavaliers dismantled the former conference-leading Celtics 121-99 on Sunday afternoon.
I know that’s a very small sample size, but this new-look Cavaliers team looks like they can play with anyone in the Eastern Conference. They have made the NBA Finals the last three seasons, but many people believed they wouldn’t go back this season after the losing streak and the reports of players feuding in the locker room.
That was all before the trade deadline.
Now, don’t be surprised if we see round four of Warriors-Cavaliers come June.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.