On Thursday, in just about an hour, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded nearly half of their team.
First, ESPN reported that the Cavs had traded point guard Isaiah Thomas, aging big man Channing Frye, and their own 2018 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for young talent in the form of combo guard Jordan Clarkson and athletic forward Larry Nance Jr. Shortly thereafter, the Cavs pulled off a three-team deal, sending former league MVP Derrick Rose and swingman Jae Crowder to the Utah Jazz and shipping guard Iman Shumpert to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Sacramento's George Hill and Utah's Rodney Hood.
For good measure, the Cavs then parted ways with future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade, sending Wade back to the Miami Heat in exchange for a future second-round pick.
The Cavaliers have overhauled their roster in the last hour or so.
The potentially departing players represent:
- 29% of player games started (78)
- 31% of individual minutes played (3,950) pic.twitter.com/8PaZI0AK8U
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 8, 2018
In short, the Cavs effectively jettisoned every prominent offseason acquisition they made last summer — almost certainly in an effort to please LeBron James, who could opt out of his contract this summer. The struggling Cavs hold a 31-22 record, but they were desperately in need of a shakeup: Over the last two months, their defense cratered, they blew leads to terrible teams, star big man Kevin Love broke his hand, and players lobbed passive-aggressive missives at one another in press conferences.
Cleveland "remade its roster with young, athletic wing players," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski explains. Now, the question is whether these moves will be enough to propel the Cavs to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals — and keep James around in the process. Read more about Cleveland's deadline whirlwind at Cleveland.com. Kelly O'Meara Morales