One day after the Cleveland Cavaliers traded away six players and acquired four others, superstar LeBron James told reporters on Friday that he’s pleased with the team’s moves and he’s ready to get working with the new group.
“I think we became a younger team, more athletic. We added some more shooting as well. So, we’ll have to see how it meshes,” James said. “I like the pieces that we have coming in.”
On Thursday, the Cavaliers completed three trades involving four teams, acquiring guard Jordan Clarkson and big man Larry Nance Jr. from the Los Angeles Lakers, Rodney Hood from the Utah Jazz and point guard George Hill from the Sacramento Kings.
“It’s my job to get these guys integrated as fast as possible,” James said Friday. “I know the coaching staff and [coach] T Lue is going to do it as well, but it’s my job to get these guys on the same page with us where we want to accomplish what we want to do. I look forward to getting them here. … All four of them are pretty smart guys, and it should be fun.”
Lue said that he envisions JR Smith remaining as the starter at shooting guard despite Cleveland adding Hood and Clarkson.
Lue also plans to adjust his starting front court based on matchups for the remainder of the season, especially while Kevin Love is sidelined with a broken left hand. That means Hood could start alongside Smith at times, or Cleveland could go bigger, presumably with Nance or Jeff Green, when the opponent calls for it.
Shipped out by the Cavs were starters Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, two key pieces in the deal that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in August; Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose, two former superstars who sacrificed more-lucrative deals to join Cleveland; and Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert, two key contributors on the Cavs’ historic run to the championship in 2016.
“It’s always tough when you lose teammates,” James said. “The trade deadline is always a difficult time for everybody. … I wish it could’ve been a lot better than it was. I definitely wish all six guys … the best.”
The most controversial moves involved Thomas and Wade. The Cavs essentially gave up on Thomas after he played only 15 games following a 7½-month layoff because of a torn labrum in his right hip, sending him to the Lakers.
“I want Isaiah to get his bounce back, get his spring back, get healthy,” James said. “You know, being out seven months is difficult for anybody. I just felt like he was playing behind the eight ball. … I wish the best for him. In L.A. right now and his future, I want him to get that bounce back, get that spring back.”
Wade was one of James’ closest friends who came to Cleveland just to be reunited with his former Miami Heat running mate.
“Me and D-Wade? It ain’t tough,” James laughed. “I see him all the time. I’m happy as hell for D-Wade. He gets to go back home. That’s how it should be. I’ve always felt that’s where his heart and his mind was. I think it’s going to be great for him.
“It wasn’t tough. We’re both 15 years in the league. We know how the business is. But more important, we know we see each other all the time anyway, so, ‘get out of here, D-Wade,'” he joked.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.
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