It is normal for the Cleveland Cavaliers to dominate headlines with star LeBron James in their ranks, but the franchise made news for different reasons on deadline day.
Cleveland decided two things coming into Thursday: they were going to go for it this season, and they needed an entirely different team to do it. What resulted was three trades, involving five teams, 11 players and two draft picks. The Cavaliers dealt a former MVP candidate, a future Hall of Famer and the 2011 NBA MVP. It was an eventful day.
No event, though, was bigger than the trade which saw the Cavs do what no one thought they would when the season started: they showed Isaiah Thomas the door.
Cleveland traded Thomas, Channing Frye and their 2018 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr. It was a win-win for both teams as the Cavs got two players who can contribute now which helps James’ push for a title, and will help Cleveland in the future as both men are under contract for two more seasons.
OFFICIAL: Welcome to #TheLand, @rodneyhood & @George_Hill3!
DETAILS: https://t.co/hOHYQaqmOR#AllForOne pic.twitter.com/0DuSAgI7Fb
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) February 9, 2018
In the process the Lakers acquired two players whose contracts expire at the end of the campaign, which helps them as they will be active this offseason and the next in the free-agent market. They also received a first-round pick as well which they thought they would not be able to get in return for Clarkson considering his contract.
That was only the first trade for Cleveland. Later they orchestrated a three-team deal with the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz which saw Rodney Hood and George Hill on their way to Cleveland with Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose going to Utah. The Kings acquired Joe Johnson from Utah and Iman Shumpert and a second-round pick from the Cavs.
There is a story behind that pick, too, as Cleveland acquired it Thursday when they traded Dwyane Wade back to the Miami Heat. The whirlwind of moves, all made in about the span of two hours, left the NBA world reeling. It made all the other moves on the day virtually irrelevant despite the fact there were some notable moves made that will help teams both in the present and the future.
Wheels down in Wade County.
The #R3TURN. #HEATCulture pic.twitter.com/TiIDeP2cxe
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 9, 2018
The New York Knicks picked up the 2015 number seven overall pick Emmanuel Mudiay from the Denver Nuggets in a three-team deal which saw Doug McDermott go to the Dallas Mavericks and Devin Harris and a second-round pick to Denver.
Phoenix made an under-the-radar move, acquiring the 2014 number 10 overall pick, Elfrid Payton, from the Orlando Magic for a second-rounder.
Then there were the other deals that were overlooked in all the buzz surrounding the Cavs’ busy day. The Detroit Pistons traded Willie Reed for Chicago Bulls guard Jameer Nelson, and they also moved Brice Johnson and a second-rounder to the Memphis Grizzlies for James Ennis. The Washington Wizards traded Sheldon Mac and cash to the Atlanta Hawks for a second-round pick.
There were a few more as well:
— The New Orleans Pelicans traded Dante Cunningham to the Brooklyn Nets for Rashad Vaughn
— The Toronto Raptors sent Bruno Caboclo to the Kings for Malachi Richardson
— The Portland Trail Blazers traded Noah Vonleh to the Bulls for the draft rights to Milovan Rakovic
Then there were the moves that did not happen:
— The Los Angeles Clippers held on to DeAndre Jordan, having sensationally dealt Blake Griffin to the Pistons
— Tyreke Evans stayed with the Grizzlies
— Marcus Smart is still with the Boston Celtics