Thomas traded to Lakers in Cavaliers’ deadline overhaul

Isaiah ThomasThe Isaiah Thomas era is over in Cleveland as the Cavaliers made a flurry of trades at the deadline on Thursday. Cleveland moved a total of six players and received four in return, getting younger and possibly more competitive in the process - something that will be tested in the playoffs. The Cavaliers desperately needed a roster overhaul, and if nothing else, it gives the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions hope to return to the NBA Finals once more.

Thomas was the biggest departure from Cleveland, going to the Los Angeles Lakers along with Channing Frye and the Cavaliers’ first-round pick for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Thomas’ time with Cleveland was too brief to judge and further clouded by the hip injury he never quite recovered from, but the Cavaliers couldn’t afford to wait and see if he would regain his All-Star form over the next couple months. The Lakers likely define Thomas and Frye’s value largely through their expiring contracts, which will allow Los Angeles to pursue big free agents in the upcoming offseason. Unfortunately for Thomas, that makes his NBA future a complete mystery.

Cleveland's trade theme was concentrated on getting younger: they shipped out veterans Dwayne Wade and Derrick Rose while adding Rodney Hood. Hood and Rose were part of a three-team deal where Rose and Jae Crowder went to the Utah Jazz and Iman Shumpert went to the Sacramento Kings while the Cavaliers received Hood and George Hill. The addition of Hood and Hill will give LeBron James more passing options, as both players are capable of being efficient perimeter shooters, and having Hill and Clarkson share time at point guard should be an upgrade over what Thomas and Rose were providing.

While catching the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors in the race for home-court advantage will be a tall order, the success or failure of Cleveland’s deadline dealing will be determined in the postseason by whether or not the new additions translate into another Finals appearance. In the long term, Thursday’s deals give Cleveland slightly more stability beyond this season, when James will decide what he wants to do next. If James leaves again, building around Clarkson and Hood and whoever the Cavaliers select with the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 pick looks like a solid backup plan, which is something the franchise was sorely lacking.