The Cleveland Cavaliers' stunning trade deadline makeover continued after trading Isaiah Thomas to the Lakers, with a pair of deals. The big one was a three-team trade that saw Cleveland acquire George Hill and Rodney Hood. The Sacramento Kings acquired Joe Johnson and Iman Shumpert and the Utah Jazz rounded out the deal by coming away with Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose. Cleveland followed up that blockbuster swap by sending Dwyane Wade home to the Miami Heat in exchange for a highly-protected second round pick.
After acquiring Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. for Thomas, Channing Frye and Cleveland’s 2018 first round pick, you wouldn’t have blamed Cavs GM Koby Altman if he took the rest of the day off. Instead Altman continued rebuilding the Cavs roster on the fly.
Hill had been rumored to be a Cavs' target over the past few weeks, and a deal was reportedly close before falling apart. But, as we’ve seen time and time again, deals are never truly dead in the NBA. Hill will eventually step into the starting point guard role for Cleveland where he’ll be a terrific fit alongside LeBron James. Hill has previously thrived when his role was to play off a wing who functioned as the primary ball handler. He can focus on playing defense and hitting open shots, while letting James handle the playmaking duties. The kicker here is the money owed to Hill beyond this season, but if the Cavs are rebuilding next season if James leaves, that is something they should be able to work around. And he’ll transition to being essentially a de facto expiring contract next year, as only $1 million of his $18 million salary in 2019-20 is guaranteed.
Hood is also an intriguing player for Cleveland. He’ll pair with the newly-acquired Clarkson to give the Cavs scoring from the wing that they’ve been missing for most of the season. He’s also an impending restricted free agent, and if James leaves town this summer, Hood could be re-signed to help the Cavaliers as they rebuild. He’s a proven scorer, despite some issues staying healthy.
The players Cleveland sent out never really seemed to fit. Rose was injured for most of the year and Hill is a major upgrade over him at the point. Crowder has struggled to regain the form he showed in Boston, so Cleveland should get just as much from Hood and Nance Jr.
Wade is a slightly different story. He’s one of James’ best friends but his impact on the court has been diminished as he’s aged, and Cleveland has other wings who deserve to play over him. He’s likely to be missed more as a veteran leader than for anything he could give the Cavs on the court.
Grade for the Cavaliers: B+
The Kings had an ambitious plan this summer to sign veterans to supplement their young core and make a playoff push. Even if that didn’t come to pass, Sacramento is still in a decent spot. They didn’t put too much pressure on their prospects to perform right away and allowed them to develop at their own pace. Now, the youth movement is in full force, with the postseason out of reach.
The key for Sacramento was getting off the long term money owed to Hill. Shumpert is owed $11 million for 18-19 on a player option. Even if he opts in, the Kings will still clear around $7 million in space after sending Hill out.
Johnson is unlikely to play for Sacramento and could be bought out, as he doesn’t fit where the Kings are headed for the rest of his season.
Even if all Sacramento did was clear cap space and free up minutes for the young players, it was solid work by their front office. Last summer’s veteran signings may have been short sighted, but all you can do is move forward the best you can. The Kings have done that here.
Grade for the Kings: B
Utah had put Hood on the block a couple of weeks ago and had no shortage of suitors. The challenge was getting a young player in return, or a contributor locked into a good contract. Crowder fills the second part of those wishes for the Jazz. He’s a better player than he’s looked with Cleveland and will likely benefit from Utah’s structured system on offense and defense. And he’s still signed for two more years, each at less than $8 million per season, which makes him a bargain in terms of the cap sheet.
Given the emergence of Donovan Mitchell and the presence of Joe Ingles on the wing, re-signing Hood was unlikely for the Jazz. If the Jazz were to re-sign Hood to a big deal, they would have been pushing the luxury tax, which is something small market teams generally try to avoid. Getting a solid rotation player who can fill the 3/4 role in Crowder is an upgrade for this year. Hood wasn’t capable of playing up to the power forward spot, which Crowder can do. That opens up lineup flexibility for Quin Snyder, as Utah continues to chase a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Johnson was in and out of the rotation with injuries and ineffectiveness for the Jazz. Losing him in the trade isn’t a major loss for Utah, who will replace his minutes with a combination of Crowder, Jonas Jerebko and Royce O’Neale.
Rose will reportedly be waived, which makes sense given the Jazz having more than enough point guards on the roster already.
Grade for the Jazz: B+
Miami wasn’t involved in the three-way trade, but still re-acquired franchise icon Dwyane Wade. Even if Wade isn’t the player he once was, he’ll help a Heat wing rotation that has been ravaged by injuries. And he’s back home in Miami where he’s beloved, at only the cost of a late second round pick that likely never conveys to Cleveland.
Grade for the Heat: A