Don't Hate Lebron, Both Cleveland and The Lakers Got Better Thursday
Thursday's NBA Trade Deadline was interesting on a couple of different levels. There were multiple trades--but the only ones you likely heard about involved two teams---The Cleveland LeBron's (Cavaliers) and the Los Angeles Lakers.
If you follow the NBA, you know the LeBron's have been a huge disappointment, particularly of late as they were losing games and seemed to be on the verge of imploding. The specter of James pending "Free Agency" looms large over the team much like his apparent input and influence on how the franchise is run.
His battles with team owner Dan Gilbert seem to be simmering to the surface too with much speculation James fully intends to leave his pseudo hometown as soon as he can.
Both the Lakers and the Cavs appear to have played "Footsie" with each other, coming up with trades that seem to benefit both but in different ways and somehow potentially tied to one man--LeBron James.
The Cavaliers got significantly better--shedding age, discontent and defense in the span of just a few minutes. They unloaded Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye while getting a pair of 25-year olds with tons of potential in Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr.
The Cavs also unloaded Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder in what ended up a 3-team deal involving Utah and Sacramento. In return they added PG George Hill and SG Rodney Hood--better and more stable players than what they gave up.
With 30-plus games left in this season, it sets up Cleveland with a little time for all the new pieces to gel and prepare for the playoffs. And while it certainly helps them keep up with the Boston's and Toronto's--the real question is whether it makes them better than Golden State, Houston or Oklahoma City in the West.
The leagues oldest team got significantly younger and a TON better on defense in just one day while putting some potential building blocks in place even if James does disappear since they kept a protected potential Top 5 draft pick they hold via Brooklyn.
As for the Lakers---it creates some intriguing possibilities, not so much this season but next. With no playoff chances this season, the Lakers cleared a bunch of salary by trading Clarkson and Nance and will create even more space by not resigning Thomas at the end of the season.
Speculation is they'll be armed with at least $70 million or so and in position to sign James and possibly Oklahoma City's Paul George, who's contract is up at the end of this season too.
There's enough very young talent remaining in Inglewood to make the Lakers dangerous if they can make a couple of significant moves in the coming season.
But most importantly---it sets up what is likely to be THE NBA Storyline of the summer......
Will LeBron spurn Cleveland yet again and will he take his talents to Hollywood? Hopefully it will spare us from embarrassing programs like this: