The 2018 NBA Trade Deadline was all about the Cleveland Cavaliers. There’s no other way to possibly explain it. Cleveland made trades with four different teams today in a franchise-altering deadline. Six players have been sent out of town with a completely remade roster in a last-ditch effort to make a run at the title.
The Cavs obviously weren’t the only story in what was a really active deadline. Did the moves have any effect on the race to the NBA Finals? Could we have a new leader in the clubhouse to land LeBron this summer? Who were the winners and losers of the 2018 NBA Trade Deadline?
Cleveland Cavaliers: Grade D
Additions: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill, Rodney Hood
Subtractions: Cavs 2018 first-round pick, Dwyane Wade, Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder
It’s hard to call the Cavs winners when they essentially turned Kyrie Irving into a bunch of bad contracts and a first round pick swap. NO, I will not forget the Irving trade! You IDIOTS told me all summer the Cavs won the Irving trade. Now YOU look stupid. By the way, when LeBron leaves, the Cavs cap situation is so bad that they will still be over the salary cap. Can you imagine this roster without LeBron and still being over the cap unable to sign anyone! Why would any team take on a George Hill contract that will pay him almost $20 million next season? Why would any team do the Lakers a favor and eat Jordan Clarkson’s contract? Cleveland will have $110 million on the books before re-signing LeBron James and or Rodney Hood.
In the short term, the Cavs do look slightly better on the surface. Rodney Hood is a great fit with LeBron who is a 17 point per game scorer and 38 percent 3-point shooter. Larry Nance can even run the floor and serves as a possible compliment to Kevin Love down low. The Cavs needed to get younger and tried to clear some of the dinosaurs off the roster that LeBron insisted be on the roster in the first place. By the way, the second Dwyane Wade left the roster, that told you he 1). Didn’t want to deal with LeBron anymore. 2.) Realized LeBron is out of Cleveland by the end of the summer. In the short term, the Cavs might be slightly better but their ceiling is still a loss and five-game gentleman’s sweep getting humiliated by the Warriors in the Finals.
The Cleveland Cavaliers took the first step to removing a cancer. That cancer is Isaiah Thomas who has had a complete nightmare since joining the Cavs. Thomas has routinely made news with his mouth talking about the Cavs dysfunction on a daily basis. Again, I don’t know why people didn’t see this coming. We’re talking about a guy who is really great friends with Floyd Mayweather. Now the cancer IT is on his way to Los Angeles.
Does acquiring Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance from the Lakers for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a protected 2018 first-round pick from the Cavs move the needle?. The first-round pick, while the protections have not been announced, likely will convey with the Cavs set to make the playoffs. Was it worth eating two really bad contracts in order to take on Larry Nance for two-years and Rodney Hood’s restricted rights? In the short-term, yes. In the long-term, hell no. Then again, what would the story be in Cleveland if LeBron James lost to Kyrie and the Celtics? Imagine the headlines of LeBaby James running away from Kyrie!
The reason why this trade isn’t an F is because Isaiah Thomas needed to go. If the Cavs have any prayer to make the NBA Finals this year, Thomas needed to leave. Thomas is not just the worst defender in the league, he is statistically the worst defender in the past 25 years based on his current season trajectory. The bad part of all these moves for the Cavs is that Cleveland really didn’t improve much on the defensive side anyway. Clarkson is a horrible defender and ranks worse on that end than J.R. Smith does. Hill is known as a better defender but has been awful in Sacramento.
It’s clear that Isaiah was a product of the Brad Stevens system and is back to stinking on the offensive side of the floor as well. Thomas is shooting 36 percent from the floor and 23 percent from 3-point range. More than anything LeBron was constantly reminded how bad Isaiah is compared to his former teammate Kyrie Irving. While obviously, it’s LeBron’s fault for running Kyrie out of town, Isaiah was never going to work in Cleveland.
What if this trade paves the way for LeBron to join the Lakers? That might be exactly what the Cavs just did for the Lakers. With the clearing of Nance and Clarkson, the Lakers now have the pathway to clear not just one but two max deals. Taking on the contract of Clarkson worth an average of $12.5 million for three more years was something LA needed to clear to open up the room.
Cleveland not only did the Lakers a favor, they handed the Lakers a first-round pick to do Los Angeles that favor. If the Lakers do land LeBron, Cleveland will only have themselves to blame. While I would never want LeBron on my favorite team, a small market team can’t afford to lose him. Bankers can’t save Cleveland! LeBron might be the only thing saving Cleveland from an economic crisis. The Cavs just handed LeBron to the Lakers next summer and now likely face the harsh reality that the city will turn into a dumpster fire economically.
Los Angeles Lakers: Grade A
Additions: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, 2018 Cavs first-round pick
Subtractions: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.
Cap space. That’s all you need to know. As I already explained, Now the Lakers can add two max players this summer. Getting rid of Clarkson was imperative for the quest to open up two max slots. By the way, there wasn’t a team willing to help the Lakers after Magic Johnson has been running his mouth all year. Remember when he was fined for tampering with Paul George? The NBA nerds in the front office haven’t forgotten that as Magic has really telegraphed the fact that opening up cap space was the goal and really lost all leverage in possible deals to accomplish that goal. Somehow the Lakers front office pulled off a miracle. The Lakers were so desperate to make this move that they essentially waived the white flag earlier this week because they thought moving Clarkson was impossible!
Don’t focus on the players the Lakers are receiving. IT is worthless, so is Channing Frye. Neither will be back with LA after this upcoming offseason. The motivation was clearing cap space clearing that ugly Clarkson contract. Trading away Clarkson and Nance to receive a first-round pick, Paul George, and one other max player is a steal, to say the least. The fact that the Lakers not only cleared Clarkson but got a first round pick to do so is a dream scenario. Paul George is a 100 percent lock to land with the Lakers. The mystery remains if another star will join him.
Utah Jazz: Grade B-
Additions: Jae Crowder
Subtractions: Joe Johnson, Rodney Hood
The Jazz did fairly well for a number of reasons. No, I will not mention Derrick Rose who will be immediately waived. Jae Crowder comes in at an affordable contract number in the $7 million range for the next three years. I think this was a good gamble for the Jazz to take. The odds are that Rodney Hood is going to get overpaid on the restricted market. Now Utah controls their fate with Crowder, a team who comes at a cheap value considering his stock has plummeted since being dealt to Cleveland. Odds are that Crowder is actually good, LeBron just made him worse as he tends to always do. Johnson was an expiring contract so he was likely headed for the buyout market anyway.
Sacramento Kings: Grade C
Additions: Iman Shumpert, 2nd round pick
Subtractions: George Hill
The Kings receive an F for signing George Hill in the first place. They receive an A for getting rid of the contract without taking a whole lot back. They received a 2nd round pick and a $10 million waste of space for next season in Iman Shumpert. Nothing much else to see here.
Denver Nuggets: Grade F
Additions: Devin Harris
Subtractions: Emmanuel Mudiay
The Nuggets gave up on a former 7th overall pick. In return, they received Devin Harris. Is this some kind of joke? How do you give up on a young guy like Emmanuel Mudiay for a bag of trash. Different story if you can win a championship. Another story for a borderline playoff team giving up on a top 10 pick after just two years.
New York Knicks: Grade A
Additions: Emmanuel Mudiay
Subtractions: Doug McDermott
The Knicks were the team they stole Mudiay in the three-team deal. To send out just Doug McDermott and a 2nd round pick swap. I can’t believe the Knicks did something smart.
Memphis Grizzlies: Grade F
Let me get this straight, Memphis held out Tyreke Evans since January 29th telling him that he is going to be traded. Evans is on a one-year deal with non-bird rights. They lost leverage and were unable to trade him when they likely could have if they had just kept Evans on the floor for a few more days. Memphis got an offer including Emmanuel Mudiay and multiple second-round picks from Denver. Boston offered Guerschon Yabusele and multiple second round picks. Now Memphis will lose Evans for nothing in free agency. Want to know why teams can’t compete with the Warriors? It’s because 95 percent of the league is dysfunctional.
Boston Celtics: Grade A
Boston didn’t panic and kept their assets. No one offered a first-round pick for Marcus Smart so they kept him. With teams lacking cap space this summer, Boston will likely keep Smart for a bargain value this summer. Boston added Greg Monroe for nothing today on the buyout market. Let’s be honest, Monroe might be the best player who was moved today. Boston, as usual, got him for nothing. That’s a win. By the way, don’t you think Kyrie Irving is having himself a nice laugh after Cleveland blew up their roster?
Golden State Warriors: Grade A+
There are only five relevant teams in the NBA. None of those five: Boston, San Antonio, Cleveland, and Houston failed to close the gap. Congrats Golden State, you officially won the NBA championship again.