Pro sports trading deadlines are often anticlimactic; the speculation is usually more fun than the reality. Not so for Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. In a rapid series of moves, the Cleveland Cavaliers—whose star, LeBron James, the world’s best player, will be a free agent this summer—traded away almost half of James’ aging, underperforming supporting cast in exchange for (mostly) younger and more promising (but unproven) players. LeBron, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, and Jeff Green are still around; just about everyone else got sent elsewhere.
Here’s who the Cavs traded today, in descending order of HOLY COW:
• Point guard Isaiah Thomas (who played like a superstar for the Celtics last year, got traded for Kyrie Irving, and has been terrible for the Cavs since returning from injury)
• Shooting guard Dwyane Wade* (who’s been good in a reserve role and is one of LeBron’s BFFs but has talked about wanting to eventually go back to Miami and just got his wish)
• Derrick Rose (used to be good, is now a guy who’s always hurt and can’t shoot)
• Jae Crowder (forward, brought in with Thomas, has not played well)
• Iman Shumpert (another injury-prone guard who doesn’t shoot well)
• Channing Frye (has a cool name)
And here’s who they got back in descending order of HMM, INTERESTING:
• George Hill (ex-Kings guard, passing and defense–oriented, could be exactly what the team needs but he’s getting up there at 31)
• Larry Nance Jr. (ex-Lakers forward, spectacular leaper, has shown serious potential in limited playing time, is only 25)
• Rodney Hood (ex-Jazz guard, can run and dunk and shoot 3s, ability to do all other basketball things TBD, is also only 25)
• Jordan Clarkson (ex-Lakers guard, scores well, doesn’t do much else right now but is also still, yes, 25)
Whether this will work—both in terms of immediate playoff success and in terms of convincing LeBron to re-sign in his hometown—obviously remains to be seen. But NBA fans have to be grateful to young Cavs general manager Koby Altman for giving it a real shot and turning LeBron’s team from a depressing one with a subchampionship ceiling (the team is arguably not even one of the 10 best in the NBA despite having the league’s best player) into an intriguing one that, at the very least, should put on quite a show.
*Correction, Feb. 8: This post initially misspelled Dwyane Wade’s first name, which is probably the most common misspelling in all of sportswriting and is an absolutely inexcusable error for someone who in fact used to write about sports for a living.