Since LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors (a favorite pastime of theirs) on Christmas, the team has been mired in a 7-12 slump, tumbling to third place in the Eastern Conference and only three games away from falling out of the playoff picture entirely. In the hours before Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline, Cavs general manager Koby Altman finally responded to his team’s alarming recent struggles by, uh… [squints] trading everyone on the roster?
Take a deep breath. As part of a three-team deal between Cleveland, Sacramento, and Utah, the Cavs picked up a pair of entirely adequate guards in George Hill and Rodney Hood, while ridding themselves of Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, and the Artist Formerly Known as Derrick Rose. The team dealt former All-Star (and current disappointment) Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a protected first-round pick to the Lakers in exchange for Jordan Clarkson (who is fine) and Larry Nance Jr. (who does cool dunks). In his final act of mistaking his actual GM role for NBA 2K’s franchise mode, Altman sent Dwyane Wade back to Miami for a second-round pick. With several open roster spots suddenly at their disposal, the Cavs are rumored to be targeting Kendrick Perkins, a scowling hunk of petrified wood who hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since April 2016. Did you get all that?
Since LeBron will become a free agent this summer and is unwilling to commit to Cleveland beyond this year—and since all signs point to him hating Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert’s guts—the Cavs are in a tough spot here. Their best chance at convincing LeBron to stay, however slim it may be, is to show him that the Cavs still offer the opportunity to win a lot of basketball games in the near future. Taking on a cool $28 million in salary for these four dudes despite his mortal fear of the luxury tax seems… like, maybe not Gilbert’s best idea? But, at this point, it’s not as if the man has any other choice but to try.
Meanwhile, the real winner here is—[heavy sigh]—the Lakers. They’re weren’t going to make the playoffs this year anyway, and they had plenty of young and inexpensive young players to dangle in front of the league’s thirstier franchises. Now, thanks to the newly-acquired expiring contracts of Thomas and Frye, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka will be in a position to clear out nearly $70 million in cap room next summer. And guess which disgruntled free-agent-to-be happens to own two homes in Brentwood?
When the Lakers win the 2019-20 title, I hope they send Koby Altman the ring he just earned.