The most important part for Cleveland is the cultural stability they’ve just offered themselves. George Hill and Jordan Clarkson are under contract through 2019, while Larry Nance has one year left on his low-scale rookie deal. That’s a big deal for a franchise and a fan base that has been tortured with the idea of losing LeBron James a second time.
The only player who is not on contract through next year is Rodney Hood, who is playing out the final year of his rookie deal, is on the cheap for $2.39 million and offers a massive amount of versatility. Hood is a really nice player who is not nearly worth a max deal, but is a player you can build around in the lineup.
Not getting rid of some albatross deals of Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith, who are owed a combined $66.4 million in 2018 and 2019 is going to hurt the team but you can’t shed every single bad contract. Especially when those two players are putting up below average numbers.
Grading this trade on the side of Cleveland truly depends on how this new-look team performs on the court. The Cavaliers have been in one of the worst funks across the NBA, going just 4-6 straight up and 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 games. A much needed cultural shakeup that offers them some stability moving forward is great.
Is Tyronn Lue the coach who can bring this all together? I’m not sure. He’s really been out of his depth managing chemistry and maximizing the talent he’s given, and leaned too heavily on LeBron being LeBron. But it should go without saying that getting rid of Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Jae Crowder Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert, while adding four very useful players including a veteran point-guard has obvious benefits.
This has to reinvigorate the Cavaliers but it’s a lot of moving parts to add. We’re seeing it with the Los Angeles Clippers right now – when you mix in so many different players quickly, they can be pretty good at times but lose their way when a team scheme is needed. Flow is not the same thing as a game plan.
It’s a much different proposition than shedding talent and adding someone like Blake Griffin, who has fit in to what the Pistons do seamlessly. He’s one guy. Playing with LeBron is a specific type of challenge as well. On paper this seems like a great trade for Cleveland, but it will take some time to tie all the loose ends together and really give them a proper grade.
Keep in mind that they have just eight weeks to get things right, and then add Kevin Love to the mix. It’s not a smooth transition for the Cavaliers, and all it does is give the Raptors and Celtics more time to grease their own wheels and figure out a way to eradicate the discombobulated Cavaliers.
I know that they’re more athletic, more diverse and about to enjoy some smoother team chemistry, but until I see the Cavaliers succeed on the court without a bevy of transition buckets I can’t endorse them as a regular season play. Don’t get caught up in the excitement. There’s still a lot of work to be done.
While the Cleveland Cavaliers dedicated a significant amount of cap to players that will be a part of their roster for the next two years, the Lakers completely eliminated any mammoth contracts on their docket and now have just $49.3 million dedicated to the 2018-19 season, meaning that they can offer the max deals that they think will lure LeBron to the west coast.
I guess that’s a good thing. Everyone seems ready to give the Lakers an “A”, but the one thing people are overlooking is the need of Isaiah Thomas to get his contract this coming summer. Thomas is just one month in to his return from major hip surgery, and he clearly isn’t the same player that he was in Boston. Thomas is averaging just 14.7 points and 4.5 assists, which are fine numbers but aren’t anywhere close to demanding the Brinks truck.
The major issue here is balancing minutes between Thomas and Lonzo Ball. And if you think that Lavar Ball isn’t going to weigh in on by routinely chastising Isaiah Thomas then you’re ignoring the last year of that maniac father spouting his dumb mouth. This is a terrible situation. Thomas is not shy about speaking his mind, and it’s not easy to make a ball dominant point guard function with a guy like Lonzo.
The long term is promising for the Lakers, but the rest of the season is shaping up to be a potential nightmare. I feel for Isaiah Thomas and he certainly deserves better than this. He needs an opportunity to prove what he’s worth on the open market, and I doubt that he’s going to get it in Los Angeles.
Teams in turmoil like this do not make great bets. Thomas is by no means a negative in team chemistry, but he was shipped from the Cavaliers because of ongoing issues with finding his groove in Cleveland. He has watched somewhere from $50 – $100 million slip through his fingers since the playoffs last season. That weighs on a man, and it can impact a team in a big, big way.
Los Angeles has already been embroiled in too much drama with Lavar going after Luke Walton, the lineup, administration and more. Going after the recently acquired Isaiah Thomas is going to make a bad situation much worse.
FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE
There were a handful of other trades that don’t generally move the needle of the league the same way that the Blake Griffin or the Isaiah Thomas trades do, but they happened so they’re worth mentioning in case you’re one of those detail oriented NBA bettors.
Knicks acquire Emmanuel Mudiay / Nuggets acquire Devin Harris / Mavericks get Doug McDermott – A nice little swap for all three teams as the New York Knicks get to have a nice look at a potential point-guard of the future and Dallas gets the spot-up shooter that
Raptors Give Up On Brunc Caboclo – Remember the Brazilian Kevin Durant? Well he’s no longer a member of the Raptors. Note that he really was anyways. Caboclo was traded for Malachi Richardson of Sacramento.
Dwyane Wade Goes Home – A return to South Beach for the Heat’s favorite son just felt right. It reunited Riley and Wade, and nobody seemed happier about going to Miami than Gabrielle Union who littered Twitter with palm tree emoji’s.
Jameer Traded for Willie Reed – The Pistons acquired Jameer Nelson to add some depth to their point position with Reggie Jackson out, and he’s scoring 5.1 points and 3.6 assists per game this year. Willie Reed was immediately waived by the Chicago Bulls. This is the second time Nelson has been traded in the last week.
Pistons acquire James Ennis, swap Brice Johnson to Memphis – Ennis is a great athlete and lunch pale guy who comes off the bench with gusto. Brice Johnson remains a work in progress, sort of like Memphis in general.
Trail Blazers ship Noah Vonleh to Chicago – It’s been three years since Charlotte was enamored by the potential of Vonleh and took him 9th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. He’s never lived up to his potential and is now on his third team in as many years.
Elfrid Payton to Phoenix for 2nd Round Pick