After a quick stop, Isaiah Thomas is moving again. The point guard’s strange stay with the Cavaliers is over.
Thomas, who was never a good fit in Cleveland while recovering from a hip injury, was traded hours before the NBA’s deadline to the Los Angeles Lakers, a person with direct knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Thomas was dealt with forward Channing Frye and one of the Cavs’ two first-round draft picks to the Lakers for point guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the teams need NBA approval before the trade can be completed.
The Cavs will keep their other first-round pick from the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston last summer for Thomas, who struggled on the floor in Cleveland and seemed at odds with teammates and coaches.
ESPN was first to report the deal.
Following the Cavs’ dramatic 140-138 overtime victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, Thomas stood at his locker and wondered if he would be traded again.
“I’m tired of being traded,” he said. “That’s not a good thing. But I just want to be where I’m wanted. I like it here. It hasn’t been as planned, but I definitely want to be here.”
The Cavaliers, though, had other plans.
Thomas, who turned 29 on Wednesday, wasn’t working out. He missed Cleveland’s first 36 games while coming back from a torn right labrum that knocked him out of last year’s playoffs. The Cavs tried to incorporate him into their offense, but it was forced and bogging them down.
Cleveland is just 7-13 since Christmas Day, and the club’s slide has coincided with Thomas’ comeback. He played better on Wednesday night, scoring 13 points with seven assists in 31 minutes. But he’s a defensive liability on a defensively challenged team and the Cavs felt it was best to move him.
The Cavs had been in numerous trade conversations to improve a roster that could be running out of time to contend for a title. With LeBron James potentially declining his contract option this summer and becoming a free agent, the Cavs had to decide whether to make another run at an NBA championship or begin rebuilding.
This move helps them in the short term, and it’s possible they could make another trade.
While Thomas struggled on the floor, he didn’t help himself with some peculiar off-the-court comments.
Following Tuesday’s embarrassing loss to the 17-win Orlando Magic — the Cavs blew a 21-point lead and scored nine points in the fourth quarter — Thomas questioned whether the team makes enough in-game adjustments.
Those remarks were dismissed by coach Tyronn Lue, who said, “That’s not true.”
Lue tweaked his rotations against the Timberwolves, giving more minutes to rookie Cedi Osman, who provided an infusion of needed energy. Late in the game, Thomas was pulled off the floor by Lue and the guard stood near Cleveland’s bench and shook his head in disappointment.
Wade back in Miami
A person with direct knowledge of the trades claims that the Cleveland Cavaliers have also sent Dwyane Wade back to Miami.
Moments after they agreed to trade Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and a first-round pick to Los Angeles Lakers, the Cavs completed a three-team deal with Sacramento and Utah, said the person who spoke Thursday on the condition of anonymity because all the transactions have to be approved by the league.
The Cavs sent guard Derrick Rose and forward Jae Crowder to the Jazz for forward Rodney Hood. They’ll receive guard George Hill from the Kings in exchange for guard Iman Shumpert.
Also, the 36-year-old Wade is returning to the Heat for a protected second-round pick. Wade played 13 seasons in Miami, winning three NBA titles — two of them with LeBron James.
Wade signed a one-year deal with the Cavs, but has said he wanted to retire with Miami. (The Associated Press)