Yesterday the NBA’s landscape just changed dramatically.
In a season where the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped from being title favorites and serious contenders for a championship the rookie GM Koby Altman set the sports world ablaze with drastic changes to their roster.
Text just now from a Cavs player who remains on the roster after the upheaval: “WHAT JUST HAPPENED”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 8, 2018
To understand these moves it’s wise to look back.
This team has been in flux since shortly after the 2016 championship.
In the battle to stay competitive the Cavs were looking to deal starting guard Kyrie Irving to Phoenix Suns for Eric Bledsoe and eventually gain Indiana stand out Paul George.
This deal didn’t work and owner Dan Gilbert fired general manager David Griffin and executive Trent Redden.
Instead Altman did a deal with conference rivals the Boston Celtics to send Kyrie over while getting Jae Crowder and All-Star Isaiah Thomas.
This deal and the roster coming into the season was seen as a success for both teams and with additions like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose critics touted this as the “deepest team” LeBron’s ever played with.
The problem is it didn’t work, I.T. was still hurt from a hip injury sustained and Crowder skills as a defensive force and three point expert didn’t transfer from Boston.
So with the Cavs having an embarrassing losing streak on nationally televised games many agreed a change should happen.
On Wednesday before the trade deadline Altman went to work sending former MVP contender Thomas to Los Angeles, best friend of LeBron, Dwyane Wade, back to “Wade County” and added young pieces like Jordan Clarkson along with a veteran like George Hill.
Getty Images/AP Images/Ringer illustration
What I feel these trades and moves did gave the power back to the Cavaliers.
In 2010 when LeBron James took his “talents to South Beach” it was universally agreed that Gilbert and the Cavs didn’t provide him with enough pieces to get over the proverbial hump.
But this tenure has been different, in addition to winning a championship owner Dan Gilbert has delivered on his willingness to endure the luxury tax and pay quality players including LeBron who has made it known he’d like to be paid what he’s worth after sacrificing salary in Miami.
What I feel the addition of Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr. has done is energize this roster with youth and also allowed them to avoid their fall from grace like they endured in James’ departure.
In a way, though the Lakers have room for two max players this summer, the presence of Thomas may give pause to the rumors of LeBron going to L.A. and with Wade back in Miami it further’s the possibility of the famed Banana Boat scenario where best friends Wade, LeBron, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul would all join to form a super team.
— ESPN (@espn) February 1, 2018
The NBA is a business, it is ruthless and hypocritical.
Players are expected to be “loyal” and stay with the team that’s drafted them but this generation is smarter with the two best players, LeBron controlling his destiny and Kevin Durant validating his move to Golden State with a Finals MVP and a championship.
This particular shake up by the Cleveland Cavaliers shows the front office isn’t going to be held hostage and paralyzed by LeBron James’ moves.
It gives flexibility to look to the future, possibly without James, and also the chance to compete for a championship this season.