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The Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers have agreed on a trade that will send LA forward Larry Nance Jr. and guard Jordan Clarkson to Cleveland in return for guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Channing Frye and the Cavs’ 2018 first-round draft pick, according to a report from ESPN.
Per the report, the Cavs’ pick is protected.
Thomas did not fit with the Cavs during his short time in Cleveland, and the Cavs have been on a mission to move him within the past 48 hours. He was obtained in the Kyrie Irving trade with Boston in August, but his Cavs debut was delayed after suffering a hip injury in May.
After a strong first two games, the Cavs viewed Thomas’ presence as “toxic,” both on the court and in the locker room, a league source told Amico Hoops.
Meanwhile, Frye was viewed as a positive locker-room voice and important piece during his two-and-half seasons in Cleveland. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman were clearly hesitant to let him go.
But the Cavs viewed this as a deal that was too good to refuse — enabling themselves to pick up a rim-protector and high-flyer in Nance Jr. and an underrated combo guard in Clarkson.
Nance Jr. immediately becomes the team’s best defender and dunker, with Clarkson playing the role of both facilitator and scorer in the backcourt.
The Cavs also got younger while holding on to their coveted Brooklyn pick.
Nance Jr., 25, is in his third NBA season; Clarkson, also 25, in his fourth. Both players have spent their entire careers with the Lakers.
“I have been talking to guys like, ‘Hey, if you are traded, you are traded. There is nothing you can do about it,’” Nance Jr. told reporters prior to the trade Wednesday. “Speculating or being upset about it before it happens does you, does the organization, does anybody no good. There is nothing we can do about it. We’re just pawns in the game at this point. So you put your head down, play hard, play for us.
“Jordan struggled with [trade rumors] for a couple of games,” Nance continued. “Julius struggled with it for a couple of games. As did I. But it is all about winning. I think we all kind of came together and was like, look, whether we are going to be here for another two weeks, another two months, it is not going to be any fun losing.
“So might as well leave a good impression if we are going to be gone. Winning gets everybody paid. Winning makes everybody happy and that is the goal. We all kind of checked our egos, checked our own personal problems at the gym door and are playing pretty good basketball.”
Nance Jr. joins star LeBron James as one of two Akron natives on the Cavs. Nance Jr. played high school ball at Bath (Ohio) Revere High, near James’ home. Nance’s younger brother, Pete Nance, plays there today, and his father, Larry Nance, is a Cavs legend with his No. 22 hanging in the rafters of Quicken Loans Arena and still resides in Akron.
The Lakers intend to keep both Thomas and Frye, according to Amico Hoops sources.