Wow! That is our first reaction to the wheeling and dealing done by Cleveland Cavaliers’ GM Koby Altman on the day of the NBA trade deadline, in which he turned over 40% of his team’s roster.
The Cavs were the NBA’s oldest roster and they were showing it over the last six weeks, losing 12 of their last 19 games and getting boat raced by every good team they played, and some average teams as well.
In three big moves, the wine and gold got younger, more athletic, and in our opinion, more likely to retain LeBron James when he becomes a free agent after the season.
Of the six players moved, the biggest impact looking to be the departure of Channing Frye, a veteran glue guy who provided leadership in the locker room.
Dwyane Wade, who went back home to Miami for a second round pick, will also be missed. Wade, no longer with the athleticism he had in his prime, still made the correct play, and tried to impart that to his teammates.
The other four were disappointments. Isaiah Thomas didn’t seem to fit in with the Cavs, and neither did the guy who came over from Boston with him, Jae Crowder.
Thomas is a good player, but was not 100% after the hip injury, and since he was a free agent to be at the end of the season, the Cavs couldn’t afford to see how that story ended.
Crowder scored more than five points per game less than he did a year ago, and was shooting five percentage points less in 2017-18.
Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert have been injured much of the season.
In return, Cleveland got three players in their mid-twenties in Rodney Hood (25), Larry Nance Jr. (25), and Jordan Clarkson (25) and George Hill, who will turn 32 in May.
Hood, coming from Utah, is enjoying his best season as a pro, averaging 16.8 points per game, shooting 38.9% from three point range. He’s long too at 6’8″, and a good free throw shooter at 87.6%.
Nance Jr. is coming home, where his father’s number hangs in the rafters. He’s a solid defender, can jump through the ceiling, and is scoring 8.6 points and grabbing 6.8 board per contest.
Clarkson is a combo guard, with a career scoring average of 14.5 points per night. He can knock down threes, although he’s kind of a streaky shooter. He is getting 3.3 assists per game in an average of just under 24 minutes.
Hill is the veteran and will likely take over starting duties. He’s 6’3″, and currently leads the league in three point shooting at 45.3%. He is scoring at 10.3 points per game with Sacramento this season, after getting 16.9 a night last season.
This quartet makes the wine and gold longer and that should help the defense. Hill keeps his man in front of him, something not seen much in Cleveland this season.
We have begged coach Tyronn Lue to slow down the pace because of the age of the team, but with the younger legs, he should be able to get the ball up the floor quickly going forward.
But now the Cavs have some young players who can get better going forward to go with James, and that may be enough, along with a draft pick that could be in the top five by the time the season is over, to entice him to re-sign in northeast Ohio.
That pick could be used on draft night to bring in another star player in a trade.
The biggest thing for the fans is hope that the Cavaliers, who looked very little like a team that can make deep playoff run over the last few weeks, now can do just that.
It may take some time for the new pieces to gel, but if and when they do, there is no question the Cavs are in a better place than they were two days ago.
And that’s a good thing.