A very busy day for the Cleveland Cavaliers kicked off this morning when point guard Isaiah Thomas, power forward Channing Frye, and a 2018 first-round draft pick all were traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in-exchange for guard Jordan Clarkson, and power forward Larry Nance Jr.
The trade, which was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, provides the Lakers with the needed salary cap to seriously make them contenders to sign LeBron James and Paul George this summer. It also provides Cleveland with more young assets in-case James does depart in free agency, with the Brooklyn Nets’ highly-coveted 2018 first-round draft pick still in the Cavaliers’ possession.
A recent reported stated that the Lakers were turning their attention towards 2019 free agency, but this official move today nipped that in the bud. The first-round pick that was acquired in this trade could also potentially allow the Lakers to clear even more money off the books, as it could entice a team to take on the contract of forward Luol Deng.
Thomas and Frye are on expiring deals, which was also a factor in the Lakers’ decision to go through with this trade. The Lakers plan to play Thomas heavy minutes over the course of the remainder of the season, but it would appear that the team is unlikely to sign him to a maximum-level contract that Thomas’ has said to be seeking. Lakers head coach Luke Walton has plans to play Thomas and rookie point guard Lonzo Ball in the backcourt together as well.
For Thomas, this will be his 3rd team since the start of last season. He was acquired by Cleveland from the Boston Celtics in August after star point guard Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers. That deal brought both Thomas and Jae Crowder to Cleveland, as well as center Ante Zizic. It’s fair to say things didn’t workout between Thomas and the Cavaliers, as Thomas only appeared in 15 games for Cleveland after rehabbing a hip injury. He averaged 14.7 points a course those 15 games, but Cleveland went 7-8 in those 15 games, and was outscored by 132 points when he was on the court.
The Cavaliers will travel to Los Angeles to play the Lakers on March 11, with the game currently slated to be on national television.
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