The Los Angeles Lakers have traded Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The Cavaliers are sending a package including Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and their top-three protected 2018 first-round pick, according to Wojnarowski.
This is a big trade for the Lakers, who bring talent back in the present and create salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2018 as well. Both Thomas and Frye are on expiring deals, while picking up a first-rounder pending protections is another solid. The scouting department has been red-hot on draft day, as exemplified by the fact they just turned two deep picks into an appealing package.
Thomas has struggled in his limited playing time after recovering from his hip injury, averaging 14.7 points and 4.5 assists in 15 games. His efficiency has plummeted as well, shooting 36 percent from the field overall and 25 percent from outside. The Lakers will likely hope he can improve on that in a new environment, replacing Clarkson on a more team-friendly contract.
Frye is an interesting addition to the Lakers, a veteran floor-spacing big man who should find minutes in head coach Luke Walton’s rotation. He’s averaging just 12.4 minutes per game this season.
The Lakers’ front office accomplished clearing the cap space they need to make a serious run at two max free agents in the summer of 2018. Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson still have to do things like let Julius Randle walk and potentially stretch Luol Deng’s contract, but there’s a clear path to get there for the franchise.
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