Extreme Makeover: Cleveland
The Cleveland Cavaliers had two options entering Thursday’s trade deadline. The could’ve chosen to stick with the dysfunctional unit that was clearly not a contender or make a move to improve their team. They went with the third option; blow up a portion of the team and bringing in a new roster. With these moves, the Cavaliers got younger and more athletic while maintaining the visions of both LeBron James and Owner Dan Gilbert. LeBron gets the new bunch that may help him in his title pursuit, while Gilbert gets more pieces to build with in the event LeBron leaves. Plus, the Brooklyn pick wasn’t involved in any of the deals. The Cavs deals done today are the following:
Trade 1: The Isaiah Thomas Trade
Cavs get: Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
Lakers get: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and Cleveland’s 2018 first-round pick
Trade 2: Hood and Hill
Cavs get: Rodney Hood (via Utah), George Hill (via Sacramento)
Kings get: Joe Johnson (via Utah), Iman Shumpert (via Cleveland), Miami’s 2020 second-round pick (via Cleveland)
Jazz get: Derrick Rose (via Cleveland), Jae Crowder (via Cleveland)
Trade 3: Wade Goes Home
Cavs get: 2020 protected second-round pick
Heat get: Dwayne Wade
The first obvious improvement for the Cavs is that they get addition by subtraction. Allegedly, Thomas wasn’t well liked in the locker room, Wade’s relationship with LeBron caused rifts, Rose took time away from the team, and Crowder wasn’t playing up to standard (not to mention he left a teammate on the floor at one point). All of those elements and likely more are now gone from the locker room. In their place, the Cavs get young and athletic pieces like Clarkson, Nance, and Hood. These pieces will insert much-needed life into what was once the oldest team in the league. They can now move the ball up and down the court without completely wearing themselves out. Plus, the effort on defense should improve. Plus, they along with the Brooklyn pick may serve as building blocks if LeBron opts to leave. Hill provides a pass-first playmaker to the team, but not much else.
So the obvious question is, did the Cavs remodel result into a better team? They’ve shored up their backcourt, added youth and athleticism, and cleared out the character mess and bickering in the locker room. All of those are positives. Will it provide better results? Unlikely if the standard is to beat the eventual Western Conference Champion. As far as the East goes, they have three months to build chemistry and Kevin Love won’t be back until the tail end of the season. That’s a lot of moving parts to acclimate and figure out. And there won’t be another trade deadline to overhaul the roster. This is what they’ll have down the stretch. So if the struggles continue, they’re trouble is now permanent. So in the grand scheme, these moves don’t improve their title chances and only slightly improve their chances in the East if every piece finds their place quickly. But in the end, championships are the standard for Cleveland. On that front, there was likely no saving them anyway. We’ll ultimately find out how good the new Cavs are when they take the court.
One Final Point: The Kyrie trade now looks like a complete heist. Cleveland gave up one of the best players in the league for Isaiah Thomas (traded), Jae Crowder (traded), Ante Zizic (currently in G-League), Brooklyn’s 2018 First Round Pick (TBD), and Miami’s 2020 second-round pick (traded).