Feb 12, 2018
by Chase Gage
JONESBORO, Ark — To say the Cleveland Cavaliers made some moves before the trade deadline would be a massive understatement. Do their new acquisitions make them the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference?
On the day of the trade deadline (February 8), the Cleveland Cavaliers overhauled their roster, transforming it into something almost completely new. They wasted no time moving players and assets to try to improve their roster to better compete with the likes of the Raptors and Celtics in the East.
Below are trades that have been made by the Cavaliers since their 2017 Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors in five games. The famous/infamous “Kyrie Trade” happened in August, while all other trades were made on February 8.
|Kyrie Irving||Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Nets 2018 1st Round Pick, Ante Zizic, Heat 2020 2nd Round Pick|
|Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Cavs 2018 1st Round Pick (protected)||Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.|
|Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose, Heat 2020 2nd Round Pick||George Hill, Rodney Hood|
|Dwyane Wade||Heat 2nd Round Pick (protected)|
Are these moves going to be enough to put the Cavs (33-22, 3rd in East) over the top and back into legitimate title contention? We won’t have those answers until the season gets closer to its end, but we do have a (very) small sample size to go off of.
In the first game for the “new-look Cavs”, they traveled to Boston and demolished the Celtics on their home floor on the day Paul Pierce’s jersey was set to be retired. In their 121-99 win (the most points the Celtics have given up all season), their new acquisitions combined for 49 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. The six players they traded averaged a combined 53.5 points, 15.7 rebounds and 12.5 assists on the season, but that statistic has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Of those six players that were traded, three played 44 or more games each, while the other three played 16 or less each.
Some of the said outgoing players experienced (at least a bit of) a resurgence with their respective new teams. Isaiah Thomas looked almost back to his Boston days, as did Jae Crowder in their debuts for the Lakers and Jazz. Dwyane Wade’s homecoming was not a statistical feat (and perhaps a statistical anomaly), but his impact was felt in Miami’s 91-85 win over the Bucks. Obviously, the new Cavs players had solid debuts to go along with LeBron James’ 24 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds in only 28 minutes. Perhaps these trades helped everyone involved.
Here are the statistics of each traded player on their former and current teams.
|Traded Players||Cavaliers||New Team|
(2016-17 Cavs, 2017-18 Celtics)
(15 games with Cavs, 1 with Lakers)
(44 games with Cavs, 0 games with Lakers)
(53 games with Cavs, 1 game with Jazz)
(16 games with Cavs, waived by Jazz)
(14 games with Cavs, 0 games with Kings)
(46 games with Cavs, 1 game with Heat)
|Acquired Players||Old Team||Cavaliers (1 Game)|
(53 games with Lakers, 1 game with Cavs)
|Larry Nance Jr.
(42 games with Lakers, 1 game with Cavs)
(43 games with Kings, 1 game with Cavs)
(39 games with Jazz, 1 game with Cavs)
But let’s get down to brass tax here. If the Cavaliers are going to advance to their fourth-consecutive Finals, it will be because of one man: LeBron James. He is looking to make his eighth appearance in as many years and his ninth overall. No amount of success from role players could ever touch the impact that he has on the team. As LeBron goes, so go the Cavaliers.
The moves to get certain players out of Cleveland and other role players in, mixed with the emergence of Cedi Osman and the future return of star forward Kevin Love should be hopeful signs for the Cavaliers. They may have what it takes now to stretch their Eastern Conference dominance out at least one more season before LeBron James becomes a free agent.
But at the end of the day, even before the trade deadline, it all comes down to one man. It’s LeBron versus the world, and the track record shows that the world doesn’t stand much of a chance.