Isaiah Thomas said he did not want to be traded from Cleveland and was happy there. Later that day on trade deadline, he was traded. Thomas, Frye, Cleveland’s 2018 First Round Draft pick went to Los Angeles. In return came Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
The Cavaliers made three trades on the deadline day. Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and Jae Crowder were the stars who left the team. For Thomas, his short but troubled stint at Cleveland comes to an end.
After having season ending hip surgery, Thomas was a key part of the package Boston sent to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. His health was a key factor in the deal taking time to complete, but the Cavs believed him to be worth the risk. Following his rehabilitation, the Cavaliers eased him into the team. Understandably so, he was not the same Thomas that was instrumental in Boston’s 2016-17 season.
Unfortunately for him, the writing was on the wall. Despite a much anticipated debut and easing of his schedule, he never improved his numbers. His 14.7 points, 4.5 assists and 2 rebounds a night were not impressive. Neither was his shooting, at 36% from the field and 25% from 3-point range which were the lowest of his career. Given his height, he was never a reliable defender, and for a leaky defence that was at Cleveland, he did not help. With Thomas on an expiring contract and the Cavaliers not sure about James’s future, it would make no sense for them to commit to a scoring guard wanting a max contract.
From this trade Cleveland the Cavaliers made themselves a bit younger. At the start of the season, they were the oldest team in the NBA. Giving away Thomas (who will turn 29) and Frye who is 34, for two 25 year old players isn’t a bad move in making the team younger. More importantly, the two youngsters from the Lakers have a 2 years at least (Clarkson has a 4 year deal) instead of expiring deals like Thomas and Frye.
Clarkson has been a pure scorer off the bench, but has been a key member of the Lakers. The young Purple and Gold do have one of the best 2nd units of the game. Clarkson has also been efficient from the field. The Shooting Guard is averaging 14.5 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists a night. Larry Nance Jr is not a stranger to Cleveland. Larry Nance was a Cavaliers legend. Nance Jr, while not having reached the heights of his dad he is a good bench player. He is averaging 8.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals a night. He can take some of the load off the shoulders of the first unit. Both players will be adding some much needed defensive grit to the team as well, and replacing a similar offensive production that the Cavaliers traded away.
The Lakers are not a play off team. While the team adds some fire power, they have gained the most out of the deal. The Lakers get the expiring contracts of Thomas and Frye. The two Cavalier players are owed $13.6 million for 2017-18. Clarkson and Nance Jr. were owed a similar amount. Clarkson is also on his second year of a 4 year $50 million deal. Nance Jr. was on a rookie scale contract. With Cap space available, the Lakers can make a splash in the free-agency market during the off-season. More importantly, the Lakers gain a draft pick. The pick is Cleveland’s 2018 first round pick. It’s. The Cavaliers will be a playoff team, so the pick will be exercised by the Lakers.
Frye can be an effective center rotation piece and is an average 3-point shooter. Currently just averaging 5 points a night, but on very limited minutes. He could see an increase in minutes at LA. Thomas, who had just around 15 points and 4.5 assists a night can be a like for like replacement off the bench for Clarkson. In the long run for the team, he will not get a starting role. Lonzo Ball is the Lakers future point guard. However, both can take it that if they perform well in the last 30 games or so of the season, they could then command a better value in the free agency market, especially Thomas who can be attractive for any team that requires an out and out scorer.
The Cavaliers have made a lot of changes to their roster. They now have a younger team with some much needed defensive grit added in. The Lakers have expiring contracts to clear up space for the free agency market.
This deal has benefited the team and the youngsters gone to the Cavaliers. The real question is the effect on Thomas, who has an expiring contract. Everyone knows he will be seeking a max contract but his performances of 2017-18 alone would not be enough.