Big differences, but are they enough to make a difference?
Los Angeles Lakers:
The Lakers got rid of Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a first round pick. This move brings in a 2x All-Star, as well as a homecoming for Channing Frye, playing under his previous college teammate, Luke Walton, at the University of Arizona. The big thing here is how the Lakers managed to dump salaries and take on expiring contracts in order to sure up room for future free agents such as, LeBron, Paul George and Demarcus Cousins. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka even expressed, “we have the healthiest salary structure, healthiest flexibility”, after Clarkson/Nance trade. With a potential starting lineup of Lebron, Lonzo, Ingram, Randle, and Cousins, with Kuzma off the bench; Lakers fans should at least have a nice, quarter-chub for their possible future.
The Pistons are now 5-0 since acquiring ex-Clippers, athletic, big man, Blake Griffin. Combing deadly forces with Andre Drummond, the Pistons might have the best frontcourt in the NBA. The departure of Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris make it possible for some of the younger studs on the team such as Luke Kennard and Stanley Johnson to fall into starting positions. And once the Pistons get a healthy Reggie Jackson back, it could be a dangerous road ahead to play this team in the early rounds of the playoffs. I don’t think we’ve seen Detroit fans this extatic since the Billups/Rasheed/Big Ben days, and considering there’s no reason that this young nucleus in Motor City can’t return to legitimate relevancy, they could be looking at a rewarding future.
Personally, I think Cleveland took an “L” in this year’s trades. The Cavs gave up almost their entire roster and future first and second round pick for George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance Jr. While these moves might make sense in the short run, it also guarantees that Lebron will not be coming back to “The Land” this offseason. Hill signed a 3 year, $57 million deal this past offseason with Sacramento, but things didn’t go well for Hill after rising star and #5 overall pick, De’Aaron Fox, began lighting it up for the Kings. Clarkson still has 2 years remaining on his contract, which he is owed over $25 million. This reminds me of the actions a fantasy team owner might make, trading their entire roster before the deadline in hopes of a change in chemistry that brings new life to a spiraling season. While they did get younger, the Cavs lost key playoff experience by shipping away players such as DWade, DRose, Shumpert and Frye. That may not sound like much right now, seeing that the group just mentioned was a of batch of liabilities on the court. However, does a starting lineup of Hill, JR/Hood, LeBron, (Love when healthy) and Thompson really sound like a squad that can bring down the Warriors (or Rockets) in a best-of-7 series? The answer is, not a chance in hell. Cleveland fans should just accept their fate as a soon-to-be, irrelevant franchise with their only claim to fame being lucky enough to be located near Akron, Ohio where a certain “Chosen One” was once born.