CLEVELAND – The struggling Cleveland Cavaliers, who recently have looked nothing like the team that reached last year’s NBA Finals, made a flurry of moves just ahead of Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline.
In one deal, the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions traded point guard Isaiah Thomas, sharp-shooting big man Channing Frye and their own 2018 first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr., the team announced on its Web site.
Thomas came to the Cavs as part of a blockbuster trade in August 2017 that sent superstar point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics.
His contributions have been minimal, however, because he has spent most of the season recovering from a serious hip injury sustained while a member of the Celtics.
In 2017-2018, Thomas has averaged just 14.7 points per game on 36 percent shooting; those numbers are a far cry from his 28.9 ppg on 46 percent shooting last season when he helped lead the Celtics to the best regular-season record in the East.
In the games that he has played this season, the Cavaliers have a record of just 7-8. For the season, the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions are in third place in the East with a mark of 31-22, well behind the Celtics (39-16) and the Toronto Raptors (37-16).
Both Clarkson and Nance Jr. are aged 25 and are expected to give the Cavs some more size following the injury suffered by power forward Kevin Love, who is expected to be out for two months after breaking his left hand.
In a separate deal, Cleveland sent 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, a close friend of Cavs’ superstar LeBron James, back to his former team, the Miami Heat, NBA.com said, citing NBA Twitter and media reports.
In return, the Cavs will receive a “heavily protected second-round pick” in the 2020 NBA Draft.
“Truly happy for my brother ... it’s how it’s supposed to be. Love you my guy!!” James said on Instagram, referring to Wade’s return to a team where he won NBA titles in 2006, 2012 and 2013. Those latter two titles came with James as his superstar teammate.
In a third move before the trade deadline, the Cavs acquired Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood and Sacramento Kings guard George Hill in a three team deal, NBA.com said, also citing NBA Twitter and media reports.
As part of the deal, Cleveland will send guard Iman Shumpert to the Kings and forward Jae Crowder and point guard and 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose to the Jazz.
The Jazz also will send forward Joe Johnson to the Kings as part of the multi-team swap.
The Cavaliers have been in a tailspin over the past six weeks, posting a record of just 7-13 since Christmas Day.
This stretch has been the worst for Cleveland since James, a four-time NBA MVP, returned to the Cavs after a four-year stint with the Heat.
The Cavs won their first NBA championship in 2016 and have made it to the NBA Finals the past three seasons.