The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. from the Los Angeles Lakers for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and Cleveland’s 2018 first-round pick, a person with direct knowledge of the trade told USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal until it was officially announced.
The Cavs needed to make a move. Despite last night’s over 140-138 overtime victory over Minnesota, they have struggled. Since a victory over Chicago on Dec. 21, the Cavs are 7-13, and they are just ½ game ahead of Washington and a game ahead of Miami for third place in the Eastern Conference.
The results with Thomas, who missed the first two-plus months of the season rehabbing an injured hip, in the lineup haven’t been productive either. With Thomas on the court, the Cavs are 7-8 and score 103.5 points and allow 188.6 points per 100 possessions for a minus-15.1 net rating.
Thomas was not a fit on the court or in the locker room. Despite just a handful of games played, he has been outspoken about Cleveland’s problems, saying when things go bad players go their separate ways.
The Cavs wanted defensive help, and Clarkson and Nance should help in that area. Cleveland also took on future money in the deal. Clarkson is due $12.5 million 2018-19 and 13.4 million in 2019-20, and Nance is on a team-friendly rookie deal.
The Lakers freed up salary cap space. Thomas and Frye are unrestricted free agents after this season, giving the Lakers room to add two max salary players in free agency this summer – Cleveland’s LeBron James could be on the receiving end of one of those max contracts, too.
A former University of Washington standout and Tacoma native, Thomas finished eighth in all-time scoring in his three years at UW with 1,721 career points.
The Huskies retired Thomas' jersey in December.