The Cavaliers traded Isaiah Thomas along with Channing Frye and their own first-round pick in 2018 to the Los Angeles Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. on Thursday.
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General manager Koby Altman didn’t just add to the Cavaliers’ roster prior to the Thursday trade deadline, he overhauled it.
Out are Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder.
In are Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill and Rodney Hood.
In a nutshell, the Cavs rid themselves of players who didn’t fit in Thomas, Rose and Crowder, did Wade a favor by trading him to Miami because there wasn’t going to be much playing time available in Cleveland, rid themselves of a player who didn’t have a role in Shumpert and reluctantly parted with 3-point shooting big man and locker room favorite Frye.
In return, the Cavs got players who are 3½ years younger on average, more athletic and presumably much better fits for a team built around four-time league MVP LeBron James and, when healthy, power forward Kevin Love, who join J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson as the only players remaining from Cleveland’s 2016 championship team.
Hill will likely be the starting point guard, Clarkson and Hood will challenge Smith for the starting shooting guard spot and Nance, the son of Cavs legend Larry Nance Sr. and a Revere High graduate, will provide an athletic, blue-collar forward.
A hectic day began with the Cavs trading Thomas, Frye and their own first-round pick in 2018 to the Los Angeles Lakers for Clarkson and Nance.
The 6-foot-5, 194-pound Clarkson is 25 years old and in his fourth season. He’s making $11.6 million in the second year of a four-year, $50 million deal.
Clarkson, who was let go because the Lakers wanted to create salary cap space to sign two players to max contracts this summer, is averaging 14.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists this season and 14.3, 3.3, 2.9 throughout his highly consistent career.
Clarkson isn’t a terrific shooter — .324 on 3-pointers this season — but he’s an effective scorer from the perimeter and on drives who is shooting .448 from the field and .795 at the line.
The 25-year-old Nance is 6-9, 230 and is making $1.47 million. He will earn $2.27 million next season and will require a $3.37 million qualifying offer in 2019-20.
Nance is averaging 8.6 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting .601 from the field and .632 at the line. He rarely shoots from the perimeter but has compiled some highlight-reel dunks and is a willing defender and rebounder who is not afraid to do the dirty work, not to mention a standout individual and team-oriented player.
“I’ll be forever grateful for everything that the Lakers organization, the fans, and my teammates have done for me!” Nance posted on Instagram. “It’s been an unbelievable experience and I couldn’t be happier with where I started this journey! Thank you guys for the past 2½ years!”
Just getting started, Altman then traded Wade to Miami for a protected second-round pick — with James’ approval because the 35-year-old’s minutes were going to be drastically reduced — and acquired Hill from Sacramento and Hood from Utah in a three-team deal.
In exchange, the Cavs sent Shumpert to the Kings and Rose and Crowder to the Jazz. Second-round draft picks and the rights to players competing overseas were also involved.
With Thomas and Rose gone, the 31-year-old Hill will likely be Cleveland’s starting point guard, with Jose Calderon or James serving as the backup.
Hill didn’t come cheap, as he is making $20 million this season and will earn $19 million next season. He’s owed $18 million in 2019-20, but only $1 million is guaranteed.
The 6-3, 188-pounder is averaging 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting .469 from the field, a career-high .453 on 3-pointers and .778 at the line in his 10th season.
Hill, who was struggling defensively in Sacramento, has never been a big numbers guy — 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists for his career — but he’s a solid pro who doesn’t require a lot of headlines or adulation.
The 6-8, 206-pound Hood is a 25-year-old left-hander who can flat out shoot. He’s making $2.39 million in the fourth season of his rookie deal and can be a restricted free agent at season’s end.
Hood is averaging 16.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists this season while shooting .424 from the field, .389 on 3-pointers and .876 at the line. For his career, he’s averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists.
Of the players who left town, the 5-9 Thomas was the biggest name, but he turned out to be a horrible fit in Cleveland after being part of the Kyrie Irving trade over the summer.
Thomas, who averaged 14.7 points and 4.5 assists in 15 games with the Cavs, dominated the ball, took a lot of bad shots and was one of the worst defensive point guards in the league. He shot .361 from the field and .253 on 3-pointers, while his defensive rating (118.6) and net rating (minus 15.1) ranked last among the 224 players who’ve appeared in at least 15 games and played 300 minutes.
Giving up the 6-11 Frye wasn’t easy for the Cavs, who lack quality size after Thompson with Love currently injured, but it was a price they had to pay to add Clarkson and Nance and rid themselves of Thomas, who will be an unrestricted free agent and wants a big-time deal.
Crowder, also acquired in the Irving trade, was a tremendous disappointment. He averaged 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists while displaying very little of the grit and toughness the Cavs thought they were getting.
Rose is an injury-prone point guard who scores (9.8 ppg) but rarely passes (1.6 apg), while combo guard Iman Shumpert had no role.
Since six players were dealt and the four incoming players are unlikely to have completed physicals, the Cavs are expected to suit up two-way players John Holland and London Perrantes tonight in Atlanta.
There’s also a chance Cleveland could eventually call up veteran center Kendrick Perkins from G League affiliate Canton.
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