CLEVELAND -- In the span of just 90 minutes, the Cleveland Cavaliers underwent a roster overhaul that left them with just five players remaining from last year’s run to the NBA Finals and only four from the NBA Championship team of 2016.
In three deals, the Cavaliers traded away six players and one pick and got four new players, as well as two open roster spots, and general manager Koby Altman believes the retooled roster will provide a boost to everyone in the organization, most notably coach Tyronn Lue.
“T-Lue’s tremendously excited about this new roster,” Altman said in a conference call with the Cleveland media. “I wasn’t on the team plane. I’m still in Cleveland working on all these trades.
“They were working feverously on the plane to try to figure out new lineups, and that was a very fun exercise from what I could understand. I think he’s excited and rejuvenated and has some new tools to use. We’re going to be fun, athletic and I think exciting to watch.”
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The Cavaliers got things going when they acquired point guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr. from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for point guard Isaiah Thomas, power forward Channing Frye and their first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
An hour later, the Cavaliers sent shooting guard Iman Shumpert to the Sacramento Kings, as well as point guard Derrick Rose and small forward Jae Crowder to the Utah Jazz for shooting guard Rodney Hood (Utah) and point guard George Hill (Sacramento).
To complete the deal, the Jazz sent Joe Johnson to Sacramento.
Then, the Cavaliers traded guard Dwyane Wade to the Miami Heat for a heavily-protected second-round pick in the NBA Draft, which they turned around and sent to the Kings.
“Just like it’s been a tough year for everybody, we’re all disappointed in our production on the floor,” Altman said. “From myself to T-Lue and the players, this is not sort of what we envisioned and to sort of see the players’ eyes light up with some of these deals, it was great to see some of the coaches’ eyes light up with some of these deals.”
Although the Cavaliers believe they became more athletic and talented, there is the matter of making everything work, and that will be the challenge ahead and out of the break for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, which will be played at Staples Center in Los Angeles next weekend.
“Absolutely why we decided to do what we did now,” Altman said. “Now is the time, and I think what’s interesting is we have a chance to come back from the All-Star break, let the dust settle, regroup, come back as a team, have a couple days of practice. The games start coming at a feverish pace, so it’s not the two days off like we were used to, but we’ll figure it out.
“We’ve got some younger guys that will practice. These guys are pros, and hopefully, we can create some sort of pace and continuity. Kevin (Love is) going to have to come back and figure it out with the new guys. With guys with basketball IQ, that play hard, have a common goal and are about the right things, we hope that they can figure it out.”