CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Despite Wednesday night’s thrilling overtime victory over Minnesota that saw LeBron James beat the buzzer, the Cavs are still in dire need of help if they want to get back to the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive time.
With the NBA’s trade deadline now hours away, the pressure is on general manager Koby Altman to improve an old, slow and very expensive roster.
Unfortunately for Altman, the Cavs don’t have much to offer and the only prime asset they do have – the unprotected Brooklyn first-round pick – they desperately want to keep it.
J.R. Smith, Channing Frye, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert have reportedly been shopped by the team in recent days.
“My mindset don’t really change,” Smith said following the Cavs’ 140-138 win in OT about dealing with the prospects of being traded. “I go home, have a bottle of wine, talk to my pregnant wife and rub her belly a little bit and hope for the best.”
Smith has struggled this season shooting 36.1 percent from three but he has made 10 of his last 17 attempts from deep the last 2 games.
One player who hasn’t been mentioned on the rumor mill, but probably should, is Isaiah Thomas.
When the Cavs acquired him last summer in the Kyrie Irving deal, it marked the third time in Thomas’ career he’d been moved.
“I’m tired of being traded,” Thomas said Wednesday night. “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. We definitely have a real chance to win an NBA championship and I want to be a part of that.”
The problem is that Thomas, who missed the first 36 games recovering from a hip injury, doesn’t seem to fit in with this team and he continues to rock the boat with some of his comments. The most recent came Tuesday night following an 18-point loss at Orlando that saw them blow a 21-point advantage in which he suggested that the Cavs don’t make enough in-game adjustments.
The comment didn’t sit well with head coach Tyronn Lue when asked about it prior to Wednesday night’s game against Minnesota.
“That’s not true,” Lue said.
Thomas also reportedly was the primary teammate that criticized Kevin Love in a heated team meeting after Love left a blowout loss to Oklahoma City and missed practice the following day due to an illness. Thomas tried to diffuse reports of him lashing out at Love by saying that his role in that meeting was a result of not knowing what was going on with Love and they were not meant as a personal attack.
Thomas has not played well either. He’s averaging 14.7 points per game while shooting a career-low .361 from the field, including .253 from three, and he is a defensive liability.
But who will want him? Or Shumpert, Smith or Thompson?
Under NBA rules, the Cavs can trade one of their 2018 first-round picks – Brooklyn’s or their own – but not both.
The NBA’s trade deadline expires at 3 p.m. eastern on Thursday.