CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers made a multitude of changes to the roster ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline Thursday, and the deals were done in order to get younger, more sustainable for the future and help build a culture in which players rediscover their enjoyment of the game again.
And yet, despite the changes, the goal remains the same as it was at the beginning of the season: to bring home an NBA Championship for the second time in the last three years.
“No resets,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Our focus and our main goal since we’ve been here has always been try to win a championship, so no refocus.”
PHOTOS: Cleveland Cavaliers bolster roster at NBA Trade Deadline
In a little over 90 minutes, the Cavaliers made three deals which sent away six players and a draft pick in exchange for four younger athletes and a heavily protected future selection.
The first domino fell when the Cavaliers 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.
“I think we became a younger team, more athletic,” Cavaliers small forward LeBron James said. “We added some more shooting as well, but we have to see. We have to see how it meshes, obviously, but I like the pieces that we have coming in.”
Lue added, “It’s going to be some peaks and valleys, but I like what we’ve done, and I just know we’ll start playing good basketball at the right time, when it matters going into the playoffs. I’m excited about the young guys we have, and putting it all together is going to be fun. It’s going to be a good ride.”
As the on-court leader for the Cavaliers, James knows what must be done to get the new players up to speed in short order to make up lost ground in the Eastern Conference standings, where Cleveland (31-22) is currently 6.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors for second place and just one game in front of both the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards.
“It’s my job to get these guys integrated as fast as possible,” James said. “I know the coaching staff and T-Lue are going to as well, but it’s my job to get these guys on the same page with us, with what we want to accomplish, what we want to do, so I look forward to getting them here.
“It is what it is, so let’s get it going. Let’s get it going. The front office made changes that they felt best fit this franchise, and it’s time to go to work. It’s not like, ‘Do we have enough time?’ This is the time that we have, so let’s make the most of it.”