Cavs Deal Big at Deadline, Retool the Roster

Cavs Deal Big at Deadline, Retool the Roster

Wine & Gold Make Three Deals; Get Younger, More Athletic

by Joe Gabriele (@CavsJoeG)
2/8/18 | Cavs.com

For a group of now-former Cavaliers, at least they went out with a bang.

Just hours after LeBron James splashed home a game-winner in an overtime thriller against Minnesota, the Wine & Gold pulled off an unprecedented midseason facelift for a defending Conference champion in a flurry of deadline day moves – the biggest of which sending Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and their own first rounder to the Lakers in exchange for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson.

The hits kept coming.

Cleveland continued its roster makeover in a three-team deal – sending Iman Shumpert and a 2020 second rounder to Sacramento in exchange for George Hill (and the draft rights to Arturas Gudaitis) and shipping Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose to Utah for fourth-year guard Rodney Hood.

In the final deal of the busiest Deadline day since LeBron James’ return in 2014, the Cavs completed their mini-youth movement – trading Dwyane Wade to Miami in return for a 2020 second rounder.

The Wine & Gold still maintained four of the starting five from their 2016 Championship squad and two of their top three most productive reserves in Kyle Korver and Jeff Green. Cedi Osman’s overnight emergence as a rotation player could be big in the second half and if push comes to shove, Jose Calderon has proven to be a dependable option at the point.

In terms of the outgoing Cavaliers, neither Crowder nor Thomas – acquired in the offseason deal that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston -- ever fully fit in with the Wine & Gold. Crowder was solid in 47 starts, but never found his rhythm or a real fixed role in Cleveland. He averaged 8.6 ppg and notched double-figures in six of his last 10 outings, but didn’t provide much rebounding help after being reinserted in the starting lineup when Kevin Love went down.

A hip injury suffered against Cleveland in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals – along with the ensuing surgery and rehab – limited Thomas to a shadow of his former self when he returned, averaging just 14.7 points on 36 percent shooting after leading the Eastern Conference in scoring a year ago, and after a month of frustration on both ends of the floor, he was moved for the second time in six months.

Rose, signed over the summer, battled the injury bug all season long – spraining his left ankle in the third game of the season and never really recovering when he rejoined the team on January 18.

Wade was one of the new additions that did seem to fit in well with his new squad – aided by his longstanding relationship with James – but the Wine & Gold were obviously determined to add some youth to the roster and did right by the future Hall of Famer, sending him back to the place where he began his career in 2003.

Former teammates, George Hill and Rodney Hood, reunite with the Wine & Gold.
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

”We wanted to give Dwyane the option: ‘Do you want to be a part of this?’” explained Cavaliers GM Kobe Altman. “No one’s telling you that you have to go by any means, but we want to give you a chance to go home. And I think (Wade) and his representation were very, very appreciative of that.”

Rather than riding out the season with the new faces acquired over the summer, Altman and the Cavs’ brass reloaded the roster three games before the Break.

”With those pieces, we decided to shuffle the deck and get younger and get some youthful talent in here with the energy and enthusiasm,” said Altman. “Some great cultural pieces that I want to be a part of.”

Both Frye and Shumpert were key pieces to the Cavaliers’ 2016 title run, but both struggled to find consistent minutes this season. Shumpert – who joined the Cavs in January 2015 – was plagued by injuries after a short stint at starting point; Frye – acquired at the deadline in 2016 – was often viewed as a defensive mismatch.

In terms of the incoming Cavaliers, it’s a group that makes them younger, longer and more athletic across the board.

Already boasting the 6th-best scoring bench in the Association, the Cavaliers add a trio of potent weapons in Clarkson, Hood and Hill. Nance Jr. gives them some much-needed size – especially with Crowder and Frye on the move (and Love on the shelf until early April).

The 46th pick of the 2014 Draft, Clarkson is the league’s second-highest scoring reserve at 14.4 points per in 51 games off the bench. The 6-5 combo guard has averaged double-figures in each of his four seasons with the Lakers.

Nance, Jr. – the high-flying scion of the Cavaliers’ legend – is having his best season as a pro in his third year out of Wyoming, averaging 8.6 points on 60 percent shooting to go with 6.8 boards and 1.4 steals in 42 appearances with the Lakers – posting six double-doubles and 17 double-figure scoring efforts.

"I think the overwhelming thing for us was to create a culture here that I think everyone wants to be a part of and the building was absolutely excited today. So I think this trade really put some wind in our sails."

Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman

The 6-8 Hood is having his best season as a pro in his fourth year out of Duke – averaging 16.8 points, shooting 42 percent from the floor, including 39 percent from long-range. He’s one game removed from a 30-point outburst as a reserve against New Orleans and is averaging 16.5 points per in 27 games off the bench this year.

Tenth-year guard, George Hill – who leads the league with a .453 mark from three-point range – gives the Wine & Gold even more weaponry on the perimeter along with a savvy, Playoff-experienced veteran. Hill, who’s played for San Antonio, Indiana, Utah and Sacramento, comes to Cleveland with career averages of 11.7 points, 3.2 boards and 3.3 assists in 642 contests.

”You need everyone to be a live body,” maintained the Cavs first-year GM. “It’s not fun when you’re getting beat down the floor for layups, when you miss a three-ball and it turns into a layup, you get a turnover and it turns into a layup or a three. That's demoralizing; that's not fun. So I needed to put a lot more live bodies out there and be way more active and quicker to the ball.”

Aside from the statistics and strategy, the Cavaliers can now try to emerge from an indescribable funk that’d enveloped the squad since Christmas. Losing comes with the territory and the Wine & Gold have seemed particularly susceptible to an annual January funk. But what had been going on over the past month was anything but ordinary.

Now, Tyronn Lue and his staff have some serious new toys to play with – three versatile young guns and a crafty veteran who’ll all arrive understanding this team’s title-earned hierarchy.

”I think the overwhelming thing for us was to create a culture here that I think everyone wants to be a part of,” concluded Altman. “And the building was absolutely excited today. So I think this trade really put some wind in our sails.”

With the Deadline in the rearview mirror, the Cavaliers can move past the daily drama that had temporarily sidelined their season and focus on the point of this whole endeavor – winning another NBA Championship this June.

Thursday’s final flurry got them that much closer to doing so.