CLEVELAND – (Wire Service Report for Digital Sports Desk by Field Level Media) – Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman completed three trades and ended Thursday with four new players, shipping six from the roster while losing two future draft picks and adding one.
The one-day makeover at the trade deadline was a success, Altman said, because of the desire to change a culture gone toxic in recent weeks.
“I’m really excited about the new guys we have, and I’m really excited about what they are going to bring to the table,” Altman said on a conference call Thursday evening. “I think we’re going to be energetic, and we’re just going to be fun again, and fun to watch and fun to be around.”
Gone are point guards Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose, shooting guard Dwyane Wade, defensive specialist Iman Shumpert and forwards Jae Crowder and Channing Frye.
Joining the Cavaliers are guards George Hill and Jordan Clarkson, forward Rodney Hood and athletic forward Larry Nance Jr.
Thomas was traded after just 15 games with the Cavaliers. His defense was a concern, but shooting 36 percent from the field and critiquing coach Tyronn Lue caused a rift in the locker room.
Thomas came to the Cavaliers from the Boston Celtics along with Crowder in the offseason trade involving Kyrie Irving. Irving is an MVP candidate with the Celtics.
“I think, in large part, we addressed the culture of the team and the building,” Altman said. “And I would imagine a lot people on the conference call that have been around our team saw the lack of energy and enthusiasm, and that was really disappointing to me.”
LeBron James was adamant he would not waive his no-trade clause and go to another team at the deadline.
Altman received no assurances James plans to stick around long-term, but felt the risk of opening a direct route to the Los Angeles Lakers — by accepting the contracts of Clarkson and Nance in the Thomas trade — was worth it. At the end of the activity Thursday, the Lakers opened enough salary cap space to take on two maximum salaries in July, when James can become a free agent.
ESPN, citing sources close to James, said he was “excited” by the overhaul. The deals included shipping Wade back to the Miami Heat, a move Altman said was “fair” because of the expectation of a limited role with the Cavaliers after Thursday’s activity.
“I think we’re going to get a rejuvenated LeBron James, and that’s the key,” Altman said. “This guy is so good, he dictates outcomes. That was the hardest part for me was seeing him … and I don’t want to say he didn’t believe in this group and want to be careful in saying that because he’s going to compete every night and try to get whatever teams he’s on to the Finals. But I wanted to see a renewed sense of joy in him, and being around him the last 24 hours has been great.”
The new-look Cavaliers will first take the floor at Atlanta on Friday, February 9.