The Cleveland Cavaliers made a splash at the trade deadline this season, going through one of the largest remodelings of a team mid-season in recent memory. After a flurry of rumors and reported trades, the dust has now settled, and we have a clearer picture of what the team now looks like. The new-look Cavs feature additions including Rodney Hood, George Hill, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. The team traded away Derrick Rose, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder. This was by far the most active any LeBron James-led team has been at the deadline, with the organization giving up nearly half of its players.
It was obvious the current core of players was not going to get it done for the organization, and props to new Cavs general manager Koby Altman for making the moves that he felt were necessary to make this team a contender. If anything, this batch of trades made the team nearly two full years younger in age, down to an average age of about 28 from over 30 when the season began. Making your team younger is never a bad move to make as an organization, especially considering the fact that LeBron might leave the organization with the conclusion of this season. The last thing anyone in Cleveland’s front office wants is a bunch of old players on the wrong side of 30.
Are the Cavs better off with this trade? There has not been a large enough sample size to really determine the answer. The team’s current four-game winning streak and big-time wins over the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder, both on the road, will certainly make everyone in Cleveland feel good. I think that the trades had some good sides and some bad sides.
For one thing, the Cavs seem to get immediately better. Derrick Rose was playing like a shell of his former self, Isaiah Thomas was a liability on the defensive end of the basketball and, coupled with his offensive struggles as he recovered from last season’s injury, was a detriment to the team on both sides of the ball. By bringing in Hood and Hill, the team gets immediately better with their shooting and add a capable defender in Hood. Furthermore, Nance Jr. and Clarkson are both incredibly young, talented players in the NBA. With their time with the Los Angeles Lakers, they were able to get crucial minutes of playing time that will undoubtedly help their development over the long term. While still requiring development in their games, it will be up to Cleveland coaches and training staff to get those two to the next level in their respective NBA careers. Last but certainly not least, the Cavaliers were able to wheel and deal their players without giving up the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round draft pick that they acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade over the summer. This pick, which could end up being a top five overall selection in the draft, would be huge for the team, especially if James were to leave the organization.
There are a few downsides to this trade, however. While there is always merit to a team getting younger, the Cavaliers became a much weaker team in terms of overall experience and, more importantly, playoff experience. By trading away one of the vocal leaders of the team in Channing Frye, experienced playoff vet Derrick Rose and three-time NBA champion Dwayne Wade, the organization is now relying heavily on LeBron James, Kevin Love and JR Smith to lead this new team through the playoffs.
The Cavaliers are in a win-now mode as the team attempts to make a long run yet again to the NBA Finals while simultaneously pitching to LeBron James that Cleveland is the place to stay. The organization at the same time protected itself for the future by keeping its coveted Brooklyn pick while also adding a second round pick from the Miami Heat in the Dwayne Wade trade. It will be an exciting finish to the regular season for this new Cavs team.
Larry Nance Jr.