The Cavaliers did about the very best repair job they could in a stunning series of deals that sent out six players and two draft picks, including the Cavs’ 2018 first-round pick, in exchange for four rotation guys who fit much better around LeBron. In swapping (deep breath) Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye and Isaiah Thomas for (inhales again) George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., the lethargic Cavs got younger, exchanged bricky ball-handlers for shooters, and added two switchy defenders who can hang — when engaged — against elite offenses.
Quibble if you want — and we will — but that is a big, big win for the Cavs and GM Koby Altman, who no longer looks as “young” and “overwhelmed” and whatever other adjective his anonymous critics might have proffered 48 hours ago.
Shumpert was out of the rotation, with little chance of reentering. Rose is bad, maybe washed up, and serves no purpose playing next to LeBron or Wade. (I am legitimately worried fans will revolt and tackle Tom Thibodeau if/when the Wolves sign Rose and give him some of Tyus Jones‘ minutes.) Frye is expendable, though the Cavs will miss his presence in the locker room. His positivity and knack for chemistry-building buoyed Cleveland during bad times in the months before their 2016 title run, and helped stave off an all-out civil war this season.
Thomas is broken. He alienated teammates by speaking out of turn, without having first stood beside them in the postseason, but you forgive all that if players produce. Thomas didn’t, and given his hip ailments, no one should have expected much different by early February. But he is broken for now, and the Cavs were out of time.
Crowder looks broken, too — and dispirited. The team’s faith in him wavered. Wade is a legend, and for a while there, he propped up a frisky bench. But at 36, he was mostly just another non-shooter clogging LeBron’s driving lanes and playing zero defense.
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