Impending free agency with an uncertainty of stability can be stressful. If your LeBron James, that stress and frustration is the lead story on the six o’clock news. Is he staying, is he going? Of course we now know James would never tip his hand this early in the process.
The Cleveland Cavaliers couldn’t wait until the end of the season to scramble and look for replacement players. They had to approach the trade deadline like they wouldn’t have James next year. Or maybe this approach was meant to add fresher legs to flank James as he finishes his illustrious career in Cleveland?
In a three team deal, the Utah Jazz received Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose from Cleveland. Iman Shumpert and Cleveland’s 2020 second round pick were sent to the Sacramento Kings alongside Joe Johnson (from Utah). Kings point guard George Hill and Utah’s shooting guard Rodney Hood were sent to Cleveland.
George Hill is a veteran with a high basketball IQ and a propensity to make the safe play. He’s a good shooter although you’re probably not looking to him to score. He’s a solid defender and will provide quality minutes to the Cavs.
Hood was Utah’s second leading scorer averaging 16.8 points per game. He’s a good outside shooter and he rarely forces shots. He was the offensive punch off Utah’s bench and could serve that same role for Cleveland.
A separate deal sent aging star Dwayne Wade back to Miami for a heavily protected second round pick. Wade was averaging 11.2 points, 3.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game during his time in Cleveland. Not too bad a season considering he was coming off the bench. The Cavaliers probably figured they could find that kind of production elsewhere in a younger player.
The biggest move of the day sent Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and Cleveland’s 2018 first round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson.
Clarkson is more of a pure scorer, able to create his own shot, shoot from deep and draw contact in the lane to create free throw opportunities. He’s a combo guard who can play both position well enough to start, providing line up flexibility.
Nance is an athletic phenom with a leaping ability that most NBA players would be envious of. He’s a terrific rebounder and a better scorer than he’s given credit for. He is naturally a power forward but can be used as a center in smaller, more explosive lineups.
No NBA player has wielded the kind of front office power James has. He’s always shown a propensity to want to do it his way. It seems the myriad of trades were made to remodel the Cavs for a future without LeBron, however. These moves do not make the Cavaliers even the front runners for the Eastern Conference this season.
It could be the king wanted younger players to move forward with. Cleveland still has the Brooklyn Nets first round pick in 2018 (unprotected). They still have Kevin Love who will eventually come back from injury. The Cavaliers still have options, but it will all come down to the option they have no control over.