Trade in Review: 3-Team Trade in Philly
On the night of January 5th, 2015 the Cleveland Cavaliers were suiting up for a game against the god-awful Philadelphia 76ers and things were looking bleak. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James were both out with injuries and every fan in Cleveland was uncertain about the teams immediate future. Kevin Love and Dion Waiters (poised to start against his hometown 76ers) were going to have to lead the injured Cavs to victory. During warmups though, everything changed. Waiters was lifted from the starting lineup and Lou Amundson and Alex Kirk exited the bench because of evolving trade talks between the Cavs, the Thunder and the Knicks. As Cavalier fans we were all thinking after all the talk of Waiters being traded, where will he be traded and who will we receive in return? After twitter practically broke and the dust settled, the Cavaliers eventually acquired SG J.R. Smith and SG Iman Shumpert from the Knicks and a first round pick from the Thunder. The Oklahoma City Thunder acquired SG Dion Waiters from the Cavs. And the Knicks acquired Amundson, Kirk from the Cavs and Lance Thomas from the Thunder.
At first we as a fan base didn’t know how to react to the trade because Waiters was looking better in previous games and we didn’t know what to expect from J.R Smith and Iman Shumpert. At the time of the trade, Shumpert had a bum shoulder and hadn’t played a game in a month and J.R. Smith just had a bum attitude. All we knew was that the Cavs were struggling immensely on the defensive end and that we had no bench depth. So as a franchise we took a flyer on both of these talented but “lost” players from the devastated New York Knicks.
From the beginning of the season up to that point, with the Knicks, J.R Smith was only averaging 10.9 PPG, 1.8 APG, and 0.6 SPG. J.R. Smith from the get-go this season told people that he didn’t understand the triangle offense and told everyone that he wasn’t a team player. So the fact that the Knicks were an awful team just pushed Smith over the edge leading to his benching by Knicks coach Derek Fisher. Smith was unmotivated and distracted by the New York scene. Once Smith made his way to Cleveland his attitude and overall game improved. Now as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers Smith is averaging 13.1 PPG, 2.4 APG and 1.8 SPG. All of Smith’s numbers have increased and according to the stats Smith has also shown quite an aggressive effort on the defensive end by increasing his steal total by over a steal per game. All Smith needed was a good “work” environment which included good role models and apparently a city with no night life. According to Smith, “There’s nothing to do but basketball. There’s nothing, there’s no going out, there’s no late nights. There’s video games, basketball and basketball”. Well as Cleveland fans we like this new and improved J.R. Smith and his newfound commitment to basketball.
As for Shumpert, with the Knicks he was a solid role player but didn’t necessarily gel with that struggling team. Then of course dislocated his shoulder which added injury to insult. Shumpert has always been a good “3 and D” guy but he needed to be on a team that was heading in the right direction and could see him reach his full potential. Since he is returning from shoulder injury, his stats have been limited because of minutes restrictions. But Shumpert’s contribution to the Cavs doesn’t show up in the box score, it shows in his immense all out effort on both sides of the floor and the energy he brings to the Cavs roster. Overall Shumpert, since coming back from injury, has shown the Cleveland Cavaliers and the fans why he was worth acquiring a month ago.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, since acquiring Dion Waiters, have shown improvements as well. The main reason for their success of course is the return of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to full health, but, Waiters has been a nice addition for the them. Since joining the Thunder, Waiters has averaged a solid 11.5 PPG, giving them a solid scoring piece off of the bench. For the Knicks, the trade was only made to clear cap space which they have done successfully by getting rid of J.R.’s contract as well as releasing most of the players acquired in this deal.
So about a month after the trade went down here are the grades for each team:
Cleveland Cavaliers: A+
Oklahoma City Thunder: B+
New York Knicks: A
Overall this trade is considered a win-win-win for each team, but, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won this trade (so far) because besides the fact that they acquired to quality guards from the Knicks, they were able to swap the pick they acquired from the Thunder and another first round pick for C Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov’s impact so far equals or even exceeds that of Smith and Shumpert. Mozgov, along with Smith and Shumpert, since joining the team, have righted the ship for the Cleveland Cavaliers. As we roll into the all-star break and into the second half of the season, the future is looking bright for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
By Gabe Cohn
Follow me on Twitter: @CSTGabe