The Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to a trade on Thursday, hours before the trade deadline, that will send Isaiah Thomas to Los Angeles, multiple outlets reported.
The Cavs will receive guard Jordan Clarkson and big man Larry Nance while sending Thomas, center Channing Frye, and their first-round pick to the Lakers.
The trade comes amid a disastrous implosion in Cleveland that has seen fiery team meetings and a 7-13 record since Christmas, all while tension brews between LeBron James and the front office.
The deal also ends a short-lived and ugly tenure for Thomas on the Cavs.
One of the centerpieces of the Kyrie Irving trade with the Celtics, Thomas missed the first two months of the season while recovering from a hip injury. Since his return, the team has had difficulties in adapting to him on offense, and vice versa. And Thomas' poor defense has not helped a Cavs team that already was struggling on that end.
Thomas has apparently been involved in some of the locker-room conflict as well.
In a team meeting, Thomas criticized Kevin Love for leaving a game and not going to practice the next day because he was sick, ESPN reported. Thomas later said that it wasn't an attack and that there was no bad blood between him and Love, but reports of a divided locker room have continued to trickle out.
The deal on Thursday helped the Lakers clear cap space for this summer, when they are expected to chase Paul George and other stars in free agency. In addition to giving the Cavs more athleticism and length, the trade adds long-term money to their cap — a sign that they may be banking on James re-signing with them in free agency.
The deal doesn't suddenly push the Cavs onto the level of the Golden State Warriors, but it addresses two needs — youth and athleticism — and could help soften tensions in the locker room. The Cavs have to walk a fine line between winning now and preparing for the future, and it appears they believe this deal will help them do both.
Source: Bloomberg Pro Terminal
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