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Cavaliers shake things up, make three deadline day deals

Sitting at 31-22 and in dire need of a change, the Cleveland Cavaliers shook their team up in a major way yesterday.

The Cavaliers traded Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade and two draft picks all within the span of a couple hours.

First there was the trade that kicked off this entire frenzy.  A little after noon eastern, news broke of the Cavaliers discussing a trade with the L.A. Lakers, minutes later the deal was in place.  Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland for Thomas, Frye and the Cavaliers 2018 first-round pick.

What Clarkson brings to this team is a scoring guard that can lead the second unit.  The fourth-year guard is averaging 14.5 points and 3.3 assists while shooting 44.8 percent from the floor and just 32.4 percent from three-point range.  Clarkson is just 25 and will help make Cleveland more youthful and athletic.

Clarkson will not rack up the assists, but is an underrated passer and will make the right pass when there.  Clarkson is a slashing guard who is a dynamic finisher around the rim and over defenders.  The 6’5″ combo guard can also pull up and sink the mid-range shot.

While he not a great defender, Clarkson is an upgrade over Isaiah Thomas (which doesn’t say much) on the defensive end.  As long as Clarkson can so consistency on the defensive end of the floor, he will rightfully see meaningful minutes with the Cavaliers.

The other piece coming from the Lakers is Larry Nance Jr.  The Akron, Ohio native returns to area where he grew up and to the team that retired his dad’s jersey number, no pressure right?

Nance, who is just in his third year, will provide the Cavaliers with high energy and athleticism.  The third-year forward is averaging a career high 8.6 points and 6.8 rebounds.  But what Nance is known for is his ability to finish around the rim. Whether it is off of a lob pass or a pocket pass off a pick and roll, Nance is going to finish when around the rim.

After watching Tristan Thompson struggle often this year to get back to his old self, Nance is an upgrade for Cleveland and the power forward position. The perfect role for Nance is coming off the bench with Clarkson and re-lighting the chemistry the two have from playing alongside one another in LA.

One of the few downsides to this trade is that neither Nance or Clarkson are good outside shooters.  What the Cavaliers may try to do is go back to the style of play that found them success back in LeBron’s first season back.  That is to focus less on the outside shot (still take three’s when they are there) but work the ball inside more and look to move the ball around the court.

Without Thomas on the team to bog down the offense while he struggles to find his rhythm, the ball should flow more freely for Cleveland.  Both young Lakers do not have any postseason experience, but their youthful exuberance is just what the Cavaliers need to get them going.

As for the Cavaliers other major trade, this is one many did not see coming.

Just over 30 minutes after the Cavaliers-Lakers deal, Woj dropped another bomb.  Cleveland acquired Hill and Hood from the Kings and Jazz respectively.

What Hill brings to the Cavaliers is a veteran mindset and a no-nonsense kind of attitude.  Hill, a former member of the San Antonio Spurs, will have his focus on one thing, helping Cleveland win a title.  It is likely Hill will take over as the starter in the near future.  The 6’3″ guard is more capable of fighting through screens and giving more of an effort on defense.

Hill also is more willing to pass the ball and go with the flow of the offense.  While he only averages 3.3 assists for his career Hill is going to make the right pass.  When he shoots the ball he can either take into the paint and score or hit a three-point shot.  This year Hill is shooting a career-high 45.3 percent from beyond the arc.

With Hill dominating the ball less, this will not bog down the rest of the offense and should not hinder other players from getting their own looks at the basket.  This move rids Cleveland of their worst locker room personality and upgrades the point guard position at the same time. Good move by general manager Koby Altman.

Now to the last element of what the Cavaliers received yesterday, 6’8″ guard Rodney Hood.  It is shocking Hood was available , and even more surprising that Cleveland gave up so little for Hood.  The fourth-year small forward is averaging a career-best 16.8 points and shooting a career-high 38.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Hood has been known to get hurt and that is definitely worrisome for Cleveland, but it is better to focus on what Hood can bring to the Cavaliers.  He can be what many hoped Crowder would be when they acquired him from Boston last summer.  An athletic wing who can guard multiple positions and hit the outside shot.

If it comes down to the Cavaliers and Warriors in the NBA Finals, Hood can be that versatile defender who guards a number of Golden State’s best players.

Admittedly Hood has looked always looked up to LeBron, and lets face it Rodney is glad to be on LeBron’s team now after having to deal with guarding him in the past.

In a minor third move, the Cavaliers traded Wade back to Miami to seemingly finish out his illustrious career where it all began.  With Cleveland adding younger players at Wade’s position he was in for a diminished role and so the two sides agreed on a deal to send Wade to the Heat.

While these trades help Cleveland now, these moves also set the Cavaliers up to be younger and could entice LeBron to stay past this season. But for the time being it is best to enjoy this new-look Cavaliers team.

Cleveland was able to overhaul their roster and in the process, get younger and get more talented while parting with some lesser, underperforming talent. Time will tell how well the newest Cavaliers adjust to their new team, but at least for now it looks as if Cleveland is in a better position to compete for a title.

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