Usually a big trade benefits one team over the other, but the deal between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers was a boon to both organizations. The defending Eastern Conference champions revamped their roster and satisfied their superstar LeBron James, while the Lakers rid themselves of expensive salaries and cleared cap space to hopefully steal James away when he becomes a free agent this summer.
By trading Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a first-round pick in the 2018 draft, team president Magic Johnson wants to be in a position to try and sign James and Paul George in the offseason.
“I don’t want to stay where we are,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to be on the outside of the playoffs looking in. We have to take another step, right? So this move allows us to position ourselves to hopefully take that next step.”
But not every deal that shook out on a wild Thursday of final negotiations before the NBA trade deadline resulted in a win-win transaction. Below are OG’s take on teams and players who likely gained the most and gave up the least, as well as those likely to find themselves feeling remorse.
Trade Deadline Winners
The team thought that guard Rodney Hood was going to be the answer to pick up the scoring gap when Gordon Hayward left. He didn’t and he became a liability. By sending him to the Cavaliers and getting Jae Crowder it gives them a little more room salary-wise to explore a quality free agent.
They had already made a splash a week earlier when they got superstar power forward Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers. On Thursday they quietly added veteran point guard Jameer Nelson and small forward James Ennis from the Memphis Grizzlies. They are showing fans they are serious about succeeding in the playoffs.
The former Miami Heat guard gets to return to his old team and will probably get a hero’s welcome. He apparently patched up his riff with team president Pat Riley. At 36 he can retire where he wants to and take a victory lap in South Florida.
Trade Deadline Losers
The guard shot his mouth off in Cleveland and found himself shipped off to the Lakers. With Lonzo Ball the point guard of the future, Thomas becomes a highly paid half-season tutor and then will probably be shown the door in June when he becomes a free agent. Teams might not want to pay what he wants for someone who hasn’t shown so far this season that he is worth the drama.
Los Angeles Clippers
If the team was going to have a fire sale they failed miserably. The only star player they shed themselves of was Blake Griffin. DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams were apparently on the trading block but many in the league said the price was too high.
They wanted too much for Tyreke Evans and no one was calling. They might get nothing now if he leaves in the summer as a free agent.