Having never before been traded, point guard Jordan Clarkson did not know what to expect when the Los Angeles Lakers dealt him and forward Larry Nance Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Channing Frye and a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft last Thursday.
But after just a few days around the Cavaliers (33-22), Clarkson senses good things are on the horizon.
“These guys, they welcomed us with open arms,” Clarkson said after Sunday’s 121-99 win over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. “Even when we landed, the hours that we spent before this game, you could see that dudes really care, and it’s a cool vibe.”
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Despite not having much practice time with the Cavaliers after Thursday’s deal and only one pre-game shootaround to prepare for Sunday’s matchup, Clarkson converted seven of his 11 attempts from the field and three of his four three-point tries on the way to 17 points in just 23 minutes of action.
Additionally, Clarkson handed out one assist, stole two passes, committed just one foul and had no turnovers in his debut game with the Cavaliers.
“‘That’s the way to hoop. That’s the way to hoop,’” Clarkson said of the response he got from small forward LeBron James.
“Hey, it’s our first day, but I feel like if we keep playing like that, having fun, moving the ball, things are going to come a lot faster for us.”
As a team, the Cavaliers limited the Celtics to 40.4 percent shooting from the field and 26.3 percent (10 of 38) from three-point range in the lopsided victory.
Also, the Cavaliers stole seven passes, blocked six shots and forced 14 turnovers.
“Especially with no practice or nothing crazy, a lot of it all was just communication,” James said. “We did a good job communicating and helping each other, having each other’s back, moving and flying around the court. I think it was awesome.”
Being traded to the Cavaliers has given Clarkson a chance to play meaningful basketball in the second half of the regular season for the first time in his career.
After three straight years of not making the NBA Playoffs with a Lakers team that finished with win totals of just 27, 21 and 17, Clarkson embraces the opportunity to compete for a championship alongside LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
“You’ve got to be on the floor for a purpose,” Clarkson said. “You’re out there to win. I know he’s got one goal. I know he’s got one goal, and he wants to win that ‘chip, so we’re just here to help, do our job.”