The days leading up to the NBA trade deadline on February 8th, 2018 have been frantic filled with lots of rumors and tensions between players and organizations. There were many surprising trades leading up to the deadline day such as the Blake Griffin trade to the Detroit Pistons on January 29th. However, there were no more surprising trades than the trades the Cleveland Cavaliers made on Feb. 8th, let’s start from the top:
Cleveland starts off the day with a bold trade in dealing SG Dwayne Wade to his alma mater in the Miami Heat for a protected second-round pick. This trade shocked a lot of people, but in the grand scheme of things, was not very surprising. Dwayne Wade has been in the twilight years of his career for several seasons now, and as sad as it is to say, his career will be coming to an end very soon. It is only fitting, not just for Miami Heat fans, but all NBA fans to see Dwayne Wade finish out his career where he started. I give this trade a grade: A-. The Cavs lose a reliable bench player and veteran presence, but gain an extra pick to add some much-needed youth to a team with an unclear future (and maybe some incentive for Lebron to stay).
The next big move of the day was a hefty one. A three-team trade that involved the Cavs, Utah Jazz, and Sacramento Kings. The details of the trade are as follows:
Cleveland Cavaliers get:
- SG Rodney Hood (UTAH)
- G George Hill (SAC)
Utah Jazz get:
- PG Derrick Rose (CLE)
- F Jae Crowder (CLE)
Sacremento Kings get:
- SG Joe Johnson (UTAH)
- SG Iman Shumpert (CLE)
- 2020 second-round pick (via Miami)
I give this trade a grade: B+. This trade may not solve Cleveland’s long-term issues, but it does provide some immediate and much needed improvements to a struggling Cavs team. Both Rodney Hood and George Hill’s stats across the board are better than Rose, Shumpert and Crowder’s. Hill and Hood both trump all 3 Cavs players in stats such as player efficiency rating, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, and points per game. The Cavs may lose a little help on the defensive side of the ball with the departure of Jae Crowder, but that issue seems miniscule to what they have gained on the offensive side of the ball, especially with an injured Kevin Love out of the starting lineup. This is exactly what the struggling Cavs need who have lost 9 of their last 15 games by an average of 20 points per game.
The final and biggest trade of the day for the Cavs is with the Los Angeles Lakers; the details of the trade are as follows:
Los Angeles Lakers get:
PG Isaiah Thomas, F Channing Frye, and Cleveland’s 2018 first-round pick (protected)
Cleveland Cavaliers get:
PG Jordan Clarkson and F Larry Nance Jr.
I give this trade a grade: C+. Much like the rest of the world, I was incredibly shocked when I first heard of this trade. Most people think this was a terrible decision by the Cavs front office because they gave up too much for two players that come off the bench for a 23-31 Lakers team. However, this trade is not as bad as it seems. The addition of Nance Jr. and Clarkson helps bolster a slacking Cavs bench that collectively averages only 5.3 PPG. Channing Frye has been averaging only 4.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.3 BLKPG, and has a player efficiency rating of 14.02 for the 2017-18 season thus far while averaging 12.4 minutes per game. Nance Jr. has been averaging 8.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 0.5 BLKPG, and has a player efficiency rating of 19.57 (2017-18 season thus far) while averaging 22 minutes per game. The difference between the two is nothing extraordinary, but it is enough to make a difference. The largest surprise out of this trade was the dealing of former All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. Isaiah Thomas is coming off a hip injury after what was a career 2016-17 season with the Boston Celtics, leading them to a #1 postseason seed and to the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1. It is safe to say everyone was heartbroken to hear about his injury, and then his trade to Cleveland for PG Kyrie Irving. It is also safe to say everyone was expecting the former All-Star to make a fierce comeback and provide Lebron James and company some sure needed star-power. However, it is again safe to say, we were all gravely disappointed. Isaiah Thomas has been a shell of his former self this 2017-18 season thus far. As the starting point guard for the Cavs this season, Thomas has only averaged 14.7 PPG as opposed to a league-best 28.9 PPG in 2016. His minutes per game have significantly dropped from 33.8 minutes per game during the 2016-17 season to 27.1 minutes per game this season. That being said, Jordan Clarkson has been averaging 14.5 PPG coming off the bench for the Lakers this season, he is ranked top 3 among points per game for a reserve player in the NBA. If Nance Jr. and Clarkson keep producing off the bench like they have been doing this season, this will not only seal the Cavs fate of making it back to the NBA finals, but will also help them long term. Clarkson’s is under contract and will not be a free agent until 2020 and Nance Jr. will not be a free agent until 2019. Their youth also brings a ray of sunshine for a Cavs team with a bleak future, as Clarkson and Nance Jr. are both only 25 years old. I believe the trade will provide immediate and long-term relief for a struggling Cavs team, but I do not believe Clarkson and Nance Jr. are worth a first-round pick as well, which is why I graded this trade the way I did.
I give the Cleveland Cavaliers an overall trade grade of: B-. I give this grade because I understand the trades that the Cavs made for the most part. The Cleveland Cavaliers have dominated the regular season and the Eastern Conference since Lebron’s move back to Cleveland. This year, however, the Cavs have been struggling worse than previous years with a record of 32-22, their worst record through the first 54 games in 4 seasons. They are also currently in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference standings behind #1 Boston and #2 Toronto. After losing 9 of their last 15 games and 7 of those games being blown leads heading into the 4th quarter, it was about time for the front office to make some changes. With these trades, the Cavs have sealed their destiny of making it back to the NBA finals, but were these trades enough to help the Cavs dethrone the unstoppable, reigning-champion Golden State Warriors? Most likely not, but the trades should help the struggling Cavs and potentially help them keep Lebron James this offseason.