Isaiah Thomas is heading to the West Coast to play for the Los Angeles Lakers after being traded by Cleveland.
CLEVELAND — With their NBA title hopes fading fast, the Cavaliers got aggressive at the trading deadline.
They swapped teams.
Cleveland completely changed its look — and perhaps its chances of winning a championship this season — on Thursday with a stunning sequence of deals. General manager Koby Altman traded six players, including former Husky star Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose, and two future draft picks in moves designed to not only help them in the short term but could potentially help keep LeBron James beyond this season.
Just like that, the Cavs traded nearly half their roster, got substantially younger and more athletic and wedged themselves back into contention to make a fourth straight Finals appearance against Golden State.
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After a long day that left him “numb,” Altman said his main objective in making the deals was to alter the chemistry of a team that was no longer playing with joy.
“We were really worried that what was going on the floor and sort of our culture in the building that we were marching a slow death and we didn’t want to be a part of that,” he said. “So with the window we have with LeBron and with this team, we figured it was time to do something to re-energize the group but also to have sustainability going into the future.”
The Cavs began their shocking overhaul by sending the disappointing Thomas along with forward Channing Frye and one of their two first-round picks to the Los Angeles Lakers for point guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr.
Thomas, who came over in last summer’s blockbuster trade with Boston for Kyrie Irving, played in just 15 games and wasn’t fitting in with Cleveland on or off the floor after he returned from a hip injury.
As the Thomas swap was being digested around the league, the Cavs completed a three-team deal with Utah and Sacramento. The Cavs sent Rose, who has also been slowed by injury, and forward Jae Crowder to the Jazz for forward Rodney Hood, a 25-year-old averaging a career-high 16.8 points.
Cleveland is also getting steady veteran guard George Hill from the Kings in exchange for guard Iman Shumpert.
And if all that wasn’t enough, the Cavs then dealt Wade to Miami for a protected 2024 second-round pick. It’s a homecoming for the 36-year-old Wade, who played 13 seasons in Miami, winning three NBA titles — two with James. Wade has said he wanted to end his career with the Heat, and he’ll get his chance.
James went on Instagram to endorse the move for one of his best friends.
Thomas on Wednesday seemed to sense his strange stay in Cleveland was over.
“I’m tired of being traded,” he said. “That’s not a good thing. But I just want to be where I’m wanted. I like it here. It hasn’t been as planned, but I definitely want to be here.”
• The Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies agreed to a trade sending James Ennis to the Pistons for Brice Johnson and a second-round draft pick in 2022. Detroit also acquired Jameer Nelson from Chicago.
• The New York Knicks made a three-way trade that brings Emmanuel Mudiay of the Denver Nuggets to New York. Forward Doug McDermott went to the Dallas Mavericks, who sent Devin Harris to Denver. The Nuggets and Knicks exchanged second-round picks in the 2018 draft.
• The New Orleans Pelicans traded veteran forward Dante Cunningham to Brooklyn for third-year guard Rashad Vaughn.
• Golden State forward Draymond Green was fined $50,000 by the NBA for directing inappropriate and offensive language toward a game official two days earlier.
• Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker was picked to replace the injured Kristaps Porzingis in the NBA All-Star Game.