Trade Deadline 2018: How to Revamp your Roster in less than 24 Hours
The Trade Deadline is perhaps the most exciting day of the regular season in all major american sports. It is one day of the year with more chaos and action than the other 364 days of the year. Teams are looking for quick fixes in order to make them more well-rounded and give them a better shot at the title. In a league where the championship feels more predetermined than any other league, the trade deadline was bound to be active to try and challenge the Warriors at the top. While teams like Houston and Boston appear to have the best odds if dethroning the reigning champions, but neither team made a significant trade at the deadline. The Cleveland Cavaliers, who have won the Eastern Conference for three straight seasons, had been horrendous since Christmas, and were looking to completely revamp their roster at the deadline in order to compete in the East. The deadline got crazy, and it got crazy quickly, so let’s break down some of the significant moves.
The most significant moves at the deadline were centered around the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that is because they basically traded away their entire roster. So quickly, lets run through who is no longer on the team, and who has been brought to the team.
In: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill, Rodney Hood, and a heavily-protected future 2nd round pick.
Out: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, and their 2018 first-round draft pick.
So, that’s a lot to give away, and a lot to get back. The players that were traded away had played 31% of the total minutes of the season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, so yeah, these moves were incredibly significant. They completed three trades, so let’s break them down one at a time.
The Cavaliers’ first trade of the day was with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Cavs sent Isaiah Thomas, Channings Frye, and their 2018 first-round draft pick to the Lakers and received Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. In my mind, the Lakers won this trade. They sent away Jordan Clarkson, who was clearly not a part of the team’s future because they are high on Lonzo Ball. They had to give up Larry Nance Jr., but in all honesty, he isn’t that great of a player in today’s NBA. Nance is a power forward who can’t shoot, and averages 6.9 points per game while playing 21.6 minutes per game. He can throw down a momentum-shifting dunk every now-and-again, but he is not that great an offensive player. Now, he is a decent defensive player, so he helps the Cavs in that aspect. The important part of the deal though, is that the Cavs rid themselves of the cancer that was Isaiah Thomas. Thomas was clearly not working with the Cavs, his teammates didn’t like him, and neither did his fans. He is coming off of an injury, and just hasn’t been nearly as good as he has been in years past. He was, and still will be, a liability on defense, and just didn’t fit with LeBron James. Now, they also sent away Channing Frye, which I don’t like, because he was a good team guy, and was one of the best shooters on the team, but it was the cost of having another team take Isaiah. They also had to throw in their first round draft pick, which isn’t that big of a loss because they still have the Brooklyn pick. All in all, I think that the Lakers won this particular trade, but it helped the Cavaliers on defense, as well as makes the team younger.
This trade allows for the Lakers to get rid of contracts, which gives them more money to go out and pursue big-name free agents this offseason like LeBron and Paul George. The contracts of Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye are expiring, and they also picked up a draft pick that they could flip for something exciting in the offseason to try and help entice LeBron. All in all, this trade is exciting for the Lakers, perhaps more so than the Cavaliers. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lakers buyout Isaiah Thomas, as he is too much of a headache for a team that already has enough headaches to deal with to begin with. He doesn’t want to come off the bench, and the team is committed to Lonzo Ball.
Their next trade was a three-way deal with the Utah Jazz and the Sacramento Kings. The Cleveland Cavaliers sent Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder to the Utah Jazz. The Utah Jazz sent Joe Johnson to the Kings, and Rodney Hood to the Cavs. The Kings sent George Hill to the Cavs, and received Joe Johnson from the Jazz, as well as Iman Shumpert from the Cavs. In this trade, I think that the Cavaliers definitely got the best of all three teams. They picked up George Hill, who is having the best year of his career shooting the three, and is leading the league with 45.3%. The next closest player is Klay Thompson, so he is in good company. He is a very solid point guard, who should fit well with LeBron, and will allow for Jordan Clarkson to come off the bench and lead the second unit. They also got Rodney Hood, who is a nice scorer, and has a career average of 41.7% overall and 37% from three. He should slide into the starting shooting guard role and be a better fit than JR Smith has been this year. Now, he is often hurt, so there is the chance that he could get injured and be a non-factor. Hill and Hood were also teammates last year in Utah, so they know how to play with each other, which should help with the team chemistry in Cleveland. The Jazz got Jae Crowder, who will be looking to reestablish value with a young, up-and-coming team, and I am excited for him. He never truly got it going in Cleveland, and I think that the Jazz has better coaching and a better system which could try to maximize his potential like Brad Stevens did in Boston. They aren’t keeping Derrick Rose, as he is going to be bought out and look to join a contender, so that is really a non-factor for the Jazz. The Kings got Iman Shumpert, who will join a bad Kings team, but hopefully help to influence the young players on the team. He will be paired with veterans like Vince Carter and Zach Randolph, and maybe he can try to revitalize his career among really old players and really young players. The Kings are going to buy out Joe Johnson and allow him the chance to join a contender and play for a championship, so again, like with Derrick Rose and Utah, he is a non-factor in the trade.
This trade is a good one for the Cavs, and I don’t think there’s much of a question about that. They picked up a new starting point guard and shooting guard, and the two have the potential to score a lot more than Isaiah Thomas and JR Smith were. They also play better defense and help the team be a lot more athletic. I think that Jae Crowder will be nice on the Jazz, and give them a nice three-and-D guy. I expect him to perform a lot better in Utah then he did in Cleveland. The Kings are still going to suck, so adding Shumpert while getting rid of George Hill’s contract is smart because it frees them up in the offseason to try and attract free agents with to compliment their young core. The move also opens up a chance for De’Aaron Fox to get more minutes, he will continue to develop into a nice player, as he has shown he can be great this year.
The last trade the Cavs did was sending Dwyane Wade back to Miami. There isn’t much to get into with this trade, Dwyane Wade and the Cavs just weren’t working out. He looked unhappy, and he has said that he wants to finish his career with the Heat, and now he has the chance yet again. He joins another team in the playoff hunt, and will help to develop some of their young core. The Cavs got a second-round pick, but this move wasn’t really about the return. The move was about LeBron getting his friend Dwyane Wade back to a place where he could happily exist in the NBA again. Both teams won this trade, and I don’t expect Dwyane Wade’s loss to affect the Cavs, if anything, I think they’ll be better because they won’t feel obligated to get him the ball as often as they did, and it will help the offensive ball movement in the second-unit.
So, all in all, I am not sure how much better the Cavaliers got, and there are several factors that will determine how successful these moves are, but they managed to get rid of parts that didn’t fit, and got younger. I think that the moves are good from a standpoint of setting the team up better in the future, but I don’t think that the move makes them better in terms of competing with teams out West. I think it helps them in terms of competing with the teams at the top of the East, but it will ultimately come down to chemistry. The Cavaliers have 29 games to develop chemistry and habits with each other, and it will be interesting to see how it works out. The team became much more modern, and the defense will definitely improve. Some of the players they brought in have injury concerns (George Hill, Rodney Hood), so they might not even make it through the whole season. Even if they can fit into the rotation, they still need to find a way to fit in with Kevin Love when he comes back from his injury. The Cavaliers went from being dead in the water, to being incredibly interesting in the East, and I can’t wait to see it all develop.
Now, there were some other trades, but they don’t/won’t have much of an impact on the league or the playoff picture. The real interesting thing right now, is the buyout market. Several interesting names could become free agents and wind up on interesting teams. Derrick Rose is going to be released by the Jazz and the Timberwolves are already rumored to be interested, which will be interesting to say the least. Joe Johnson will be bought out by the Kings, and the Warriors, Celtics, and Rockets are rumored to be extremely interested. He is having the worst year of his career, but could bounce back on a team where he would get more open looks than he did on Utah. I think the Warriors would be a good fit because they desperately need scoring off the bench, especially from beyond the arc. Another interesting player is Channing Frye, who could potentially get bought out by the Lakers, and the Warriors have rumored interest in him as well because he is a shooter with championship pedigree, as he was on the 2016 Cavaliers team. Brook Lopez is also an interesting option, as he looks miserable in Los Angeles and the team seems like they are out on him.
The trade deadline was a lot louder than I thought it would be, but the buyout market has the potential to be just as interesting and fun. I am extremely interesting in seeing how the Warriors take on the buyout market to see how they attack the problem with bench scoring and shooting.