As The Comeback’s Alex Putterman put it on Thursday, “The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t need just a touchup entering Thursday’s trade deadline, they needed a makeover.” And so they got one with a flurry of trades that sent six players away and brought four new players into the fold.
Gone where big names like Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, and Iman Shumpert. The mercurial Isaiah Thomas was sent packing to Los Angeles where he’ll have to deal with Lonzo Ball now. In their place, the Cavs acquired Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance from the Lakers, Rodney Hood from the Utah Jazz and George Hill from the Sacramento Kings. As Putterman noted, “not only is that a solid lineup, with a healthy balance of youth and experience, but the newly acquired athleticism and versatility should allow Ty Lue to get more creative with his lineups.”
The Cavs have been getting high praise from most pundits about their chess moves and many feel that the course correction should put them back in the driver’s seat for the right to lose the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Championship again.
However, it doesn’t quite matter what the rest of us think. It only really matters what Cleveland’s “real” general manager thinks. That would be LeBron James, the centerpiece of the entire franchise and the guy holding all the cards. Whether or not he came out of Thursday happy would determine a lot for the team moving forward, especially given the rumors swirling about his impending free agency.
Turns out, per ESPN, James is very pleased with what they’ve done with the place.
“I think we became a younger team, more athletic. We added some more shooting as well. So, we’ll have to see how it meshes,” James said. “I like the pieces that we have coming in.”
“It’s my job to get these guys integrated as fast as possible,” James said Friday. “I know the coaching staff and [coach] T Lue is going to do it as well, but it’s my job to get these guys on the same page with us where we want to accomplish what we want to do. I look forward to getting them here. … All four of them are pretty smart guys, and it should be fun.”
You know the old saying: “Happy LeBron, Happy Life.” The Cavs saved themselves a lot of season-long grief by undoing some of the mistakes they made in the offseason and moving the franchise forward with pieces that fit around their superstar rather than names that made more sense five years ago.
As for how James feels about losing teammates, including longtime runnin’ buddy Wade, he’s taking it in stride.
“It’s always tough when you lose teammates,” James said. “The trade deadline is always a difficult time for everybody. … I wish it could’ve been a lot better than it was. I definitely wish all six guys … the best.”
“Me and D-Wade? It ain’t tough,” James laughed. “I see him all the time. I’m happy as hell for D-Wade. He gets to go back home. That’s how it should be. I’ve always felt that’s where his heart and his mind was. I think it’s going to be great for him.
“It wasn’t tough. We’re both 15 years in the league. We know how the business is. But more important, we know we see each other all the time anyway, so, ‘get out of here, D-Wade,'” he joked.
As for Thomas, who had palpable friction with teammates during his short time in Cleveland, James hopes the fresh start in Los Angeles is exactly what he needs.
“I want Isaiah to get his bounce back, get his spring back, get healthy,” James said. “You know, being out seven months is difficult for anybody. I just felt like he was playing behind the eight ball. … I wish the best for him. In L.A. right now and his future, I want him to get that bounce back, get that spring back.”