With the NBA trade deadline in our rearview, many roster transactions took place, but Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers made the most notable moves. The Cavs sent their own 2018 first-round draft pick, Channing Frye, and Isaiah Thomas to the purple and gold for high-flyer Larry Nance Jr. along with the crafty Jordan Clarkson. The moves by each team have been well regarded by their players and fans. What exactly does the trade communicate for the future of each franchise?
For the Lakers, their most important addition was the added cap space the deal created. Shortly after the trade was reported, Magic Johnson was quoted saying “I wouldn’t have made the move if I wasn’t confident” when asked about his plans regarding the upcoming free agency class. With players like Demarcus Cousins, Paul George, DeAndre Jordan, and LeBron James becoming free agents in the summer of 2018 the addition of Thomas can be huge for the Lakeshow.
I.T. was the last pick in the 2011 draft, but has established himself as an All-Star, top-five finisher in MVP voting, and has even led his team to an Eastern Conference Finals. Yes, while many would agree that the Western Conference is a different animal in comparison to the East, the same could be said about Thomas who, at the time, was nursing a dislocated hip in his 53-point performance against John Wall and the Washington Wizards.
With added financial flexibility and a proven star, the Lakers now have a sense of direction. They have a young core in Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle. The Lakeshow have positioned themselves as a worthy destination choice for free agents, which has been a pipe-dream since they lost Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2012.
On the opposing side of the deal, the Cavaliers injected life into a roster that lacked youth, athleticism, rim protection, and accountability. With the additions of Clarkson, Nance Jr., Rodney Hood, and George Hill the Cavs have put the Eastern Conference on notice. The previous Cavs’ roster was the second worst in team defensive efficiency league-wide according to TeamRanking.com and it was clear that roster changes needed to be made in order to keep King James’ current streak of seven straight NBA Final appearances alive.
After the insertion of much needed youth, the Cavaliers are no longer the oldest team in the league, which also means the chances of keeping James in his kingdom of Ohio are heightened with a roster that has room for growth. With the addition of a healthy Kevin Love, we can expect to see them make a statement come playoff time. Deciding to keep the Brooklyn Nets draft pick, the Cavs have now positioned themselves nicely for the rest of the season as well as the 2018 offseason.
Both franchises have plenty to be exited about. With LeBron possibly becoming a free agent in the summer of 2018, it’s clear both franchises will have their eyes on the other as the winner of their trade will sort itself out over time. Heck, it could come down to which roster is ready to win for King James this offseason.