Thursday , February 08, 2018 - 11:55 AM
CLEVELAND — With their NBA title hopes fading fast, the Cavaliers got aggressive at the trade deadline, and it involved trading key pieces with the Utah Jazz.
Utah dealt swingman Rodney Hood to Cleveland in exchange for Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose on Thursday — the latter of which the Jazz will waive, according to local and national reports.
The Jazz also sent veteran Joe Johnson to the Sacramento Kings, who gave former Jazz point guard George Hill to Cleveland in the deal. Johnson is also expected to be waived and be available for title-contending teams.
Crowder — a 6-foot-6 swingman in his sixth year out of Marquette, where he was Big East player of the year as a senior — averaged 14 points and six rebounds per game and shot 40 percent from 3 last year in Boston before being sent to Cleveland in the trade for Kyrie Irving. He’s struggled this year and played fewer minutes in Cleveland’s stagnant offensive system.
Crowder’s father, Corey, totaled 51 of his 58 NBA games with the Jazz in the 1991-92 season, playing about seven minutes per game, according to Basketball-Reference.
The moves were part of Cleveland completely changing its look — and perhaps its chances of winning a championship this season — with a stunning sequence of deals. The Cavs traded six players, including Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, 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 younger and maybe wedged themselves back into contention to make a fourth straight Finals appearance against Golden State.
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 the three-team deal with Utah and Sacramento. The Cavs sent Rose, who has also been slowed by injury, and forward Crowder to the Jazz for forward Hood.
They'll receive guard Hill from the Kings in exchange for guard Iman Shumpert, said a person who spoke on condition of anonymity while the teams awaited league approval.
If all that wasn't enough, the Cavs then dealt Wade to Miami for a heavily protected second-round pick. It's a homecoming for the 36-year-old Wade, who played 13 seasons in Miami, winning three NBA titles — two of them 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 , posting "truly happy for my brother @dwyanewade!! It's how it's suppose to be. Love you my guy!! #WadeCountyBack."
The massive makeover is intended to help the Cavs make another title run in 2018 with James, who can opt out of his $35.6 million contract this summer and become a free agent. The 33-year-old James has said he would like to finish his career in Cleveland and general manager Koby Altman, who has only been in charge of the roster since July, gave James a team he can lead back to the Finals.
In Jordan and Nance, whose father played for Cleveland, the Cavs are adding a pair of young players with upside.
"Jordan and Larry add athleticism, energy and length to both ends of the court for us," Altman said. "This trade is also a reflection of our continuing commitment to invest in our roster in ways that help us evolve and compete at the highest level now and into the future."
The Cavs also protected themselves if they lose James by hanging onto the first-round pick they acquired last summer from Boston.
ESPN was first to report the dizzying run of deals.
Thomas seemed to sense his strange stay in Cleveland was over.
After James hit a buzzer-beating jumper to beat Minnesota in overtime on Wednesday night, Thomas stood at his locker and wondered if he would be on the move again.
"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 Cavaliers, though, had other plans and needed to do something rash while in a prolonged slump and with All-Star forward Kevin Love out with a broken left hand.
Cleveland is just 7-13 since Christmas Day, and the club's slide has coincided with Thomas' comeback. He played better on Wednesday night, scoring 13 points with seven assists in 31 minutes. But he's a defensive liability on a defensively challenged team and the Cavs felt it was best to move him.
While Thomas struggled on the floor, he didn't help himself with some peculiar off-the-court comments.
Following Tuesday's embarrassing loss to the 17-win Orlando Magic — the Cavs blew a 21-point lead and scored nine points in the fourth quarter — Thomas questioned whether the team makes enough in-game adjustments.
Those remarks were dismissed by coach Tyronn Lue, who said, "That's not true."
Lue tweaked his rotations against the Timberwolves, giving more minutes to rookie Cedi Osman, who provided an infusion of needed energy. Late in the game, Thomas was pulled off the floor by Lue and the guard stood near Cleveland's bench and shook his head in disappointment.
Moments later, James dropped his game-winner over Jimmy Butler to edge the Timberwolves and was mobbed teammates.
It turned to be a going-away celebration.
Watching from the West Coast, the defending champions took notice.
"It's interesting, really interesting," Warriors forward Draymond Green said of Cleveland's drastic midseason renovation. "It's probably obviously something that they felt was needed. I feel like they made some good moves. I don't know, we'll see. A lot of action. That's a completely different team now than the team we faced the last three years.
"They've still got LeBron James. I think everything else at that point is irrelevant."
S-E reporter Brett Hein contributed to this report.
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