Isaiah Thomas Says Cavs ‘Were in Panic Mode’ When They Traded Him

Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard Isaiah Thomas has a simple explanation for the blockbuster February trade that resulted in him getting swapped for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

“It’s a business,” Thomas told ESPN during an interview for the network’s E:60 program. “And the Cavs were, I mean, they were in panic mode. We were losing—a lot. And I think they felt like they needed to make a move, and they, they basically cleared house.”

Thomas and Channing Frye were shipped to the Lakers, while the Cavs acquired Rodney Hood and George Hill in a separate three-way deal with the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings. The flurry of trades that saw the Cavs trade six players and a draft pick to bring in four new additions came shortly after the team posted a 6-12 record from Christmas through February 3.

A large portion of the blame fell on Thomas, who only logged 15 games with the Cavs after spending a significant portion of the season rehabbing from a hip injury. As the losses piled up, he reportedly called out Kevin Love, questioned his teammates’ effort, and implied the coaching staff failed to make adjustments. He also found himself on the wrong end of a hilarious meme.

“People don’t put in there that we had eight or nine new players,” Thomas added. “So it was basically a brand new team…I’m in a new system—new team, new coach, new players. And then I’ve been off for seven months. So I got to get—individually, I got to for the most part get my rhythm back, get my timing back.”

Much like Thomas, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman has since conceded that the 2017 trade that initially brought Thomas to Cleveland while shipping Kyrie Irving to Boston was a bust.

“Did it fit? Did it work? Probably not,” Altman told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com shortly after trading Thomas and Frye to Los Angeles. “So with those pieces, we decided to shuffle the deck and get younger and get some youthful talent with energy and enthusiasm.”

Thomas finished fifth in MVP voting after the 2016-2017 season, and many around the league believe he’ll use his time with the rebuilding Lakers as an audition for a larger contract.

“Hopefully I’m here long term, you know, with me being a free agent this summer,” Thomas said. “But if I’m not, these last 25 games I’m going to play my heart out and show the Lakers why I should be here long term.”

Thomas’ full E:60 interview is scheduled to air March 11.

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Atlanta Hawks Fans Yell Savage Chant to Cavs: ‘LeBron Will Leave You’

Atlanta Hawks fans are ruthless. During last night's game, the Hawks crowd taunted the Cleveland Cavaliers by chanting “LeBron will leave you” and “LeBron will trade you.”

Of course, the taunts come after Cleveland basically became a new team at the trade deadline. The Cavaliers gave Iman Shumpert to the Sacramento Kings; Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose to the Jazz; Dwyane Wade back to the Miami Heat; and Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye to the Los Angeles Lakers. In exchange, they got George Hill, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and Rodney Hood on their squad. Tristan Thompson and Jeff Green managed to stick around, though, and Atlanta made sure to give them crap for it.

After last night's game, James explained the decision process behind the multiple trades.

“It's not about what the other guys didn't bring or what these guys bring,” said James at the press conference, according to ESPN. “We're all professionals, and we were happy with the guys that we had, and we're going to [be] happy with the guys that we have now. That's the way the league is, it's a business. There's no shade on anybody.”

The Cavaliers are spending February trying to get back on track after crawling their way out of the Finals conversation last month. At the very least, they're better than Atlanta: The Cavaliers handily beat the Hawks, 123-107.

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This Was Kyrie Irving’s Reaction to the Cavaliers’ Massive Roster Overhaul

Most people expected the Cavaliers to shake things up at the NBA trade deadline on Thursday and make one or two moves to improve their roster as they prepare to head into the second half of the 2017-18 NBA season. But most people didn’t expect them to go as far as they did.

Just hours before the trade deadline, the Cavaliers orchestrated a series of moves that saw them trade away Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, and Jae Crowder—in addition to a couple draft picks—in exchange for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill, and Rodney Hood. Cleveland will have a completely different lineup when they take the court to play against the Hawks on Friday night, and they’re hoping it will help them get out of the rut they’ve been stuck in for most of the last month.

In the aftermath of all the action involving the Cavaliers at the trade deadline, there were quite a few people who wondered what Kyrie Irving’s reaction to the whole thing must have been. The Cavaliers essentially parted way with the two players (Thomas and Crowder) they got in exchange for him last summer. They also looked like a team desperate to improve their current situation in a hurry. So many speculated about what Irving’s response to the whole thing would be and used memes to make their best guesses.

But what was Irving’s real reaction? As it turns out, a whole lot less exciting than the memes might have suggested. On Thursday night, Irving scored 28 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and dished out 6 assists in a 110-104 Celtics’ overtime win over the Wizards.

And after the game, he was asked to provide a response to the trades the Cavaliers pulled off earlier in the day. Irving took a few seconds to collect his thoughts and looked like he might have something to say about them. But then, he hit reporters with a slight shrug before matter-of-factly saying, “I’m in Boston.”

We doubt those are Irving’s only thoughts on the situation. But for now, that’s the only reaction he has. Stay tuned to see if he has more to say after LeBron James and the Cavaliers play Irving and the Celtics on Sunday afternoon.

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Isaiah Thomas Trade; Gronk Going Hollywood?; Special Guest Kenyon Martin | Out of Bounds

On today’s show, special guest Kenyon Martin joins Gil and the #OutofBounds gang to talk the day’s biggest sports stories. The convo kicks off with the looming NBA trade deadline and how trades affect team chemistry. Next, the crew discusses the three-year extension Sixth Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams just signed with the Clippers. Did he sell himself short in seeking stability and security? With late breaking news that the Cavs are trading Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and their protected first-round pick in 2018 to the Lakers for Larry Nance, Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, our “In Play” look at Cleveland’s big nationally-televised Sunday matchup in Boston — when the Celtics will retire Paul Pierce’s jersey — is extra spicy. Adam and Pierce break down the impact that the trade will have on both teams, as well as how it will affect the big game. Finally, following a report that Rob Gronkowski could retire from football to become a Hollywood action star, the team weighs in on how good he’d be, and also makes picks for athletes who would be great flexing muscles on the big screen.

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The Cavaliers and Lakers Just Pulled Off a Blockbuster Trade Involving Isaiah Thomas

Things never seemed quite right with Isaiah Thomas in Cleveland. Now, less than six months after the Cavaliers acquired Thomas in a massive deal with the Boston Celtics for Kyrie Irving, Cleveland has flipped the veteran guard in another blockbuster trade.

News of the trade broke Thursday on Twitter, with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski sharing details of the swap.

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne added that the Lakers plan to hold on to both former Cavaliers players.

All we can say is: WOW. We're sure there's much more to come on this deal.

The bottom line is, the Cavs had to make a move of some kind. Things were falling apart, and they're intent on making a fourth-straight NBA Finals run in what could be LeBron James' final season in The Land. It's likely LeBron had some type of say in this deal.

It will be fascinating to see how this move affects Cleveland's on- and off-court success in the second half of the NBA season. The Cavs are currently in third in the East, behind the Celtics and Raptors.

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LeBron to the Lakers This Summer? Not So Fast, According to a New Report

Folks around the NBA have murmured for more than a year now about LeBron James' purported interest in bolting to Los Angeles when he has the opportunity to opt out of his contract during the 2018 offseason. Would he really leave his hometown team twice in his career? That remains to be seen. But people around the league have suspected as much—and suspected that he's headed for Los Angeles—for a long time now.

LeBron owns two houses in L.A., and conquering the West would provide him with a new challenge—a new potential legacy boost, if you will. Also, the Lakers have a wealth of cap space, a promising young roster, and a storied history. If he could bring them back to prominence, well, it would do a ton for LeBron's place in the history books. Of the two L.A. franchises, it seemed way likelier that LeBron would desire a spot on the roster of the Lake Show.

According to a new report from two of the most plugged-in NBA reporters, however, the Lakers may pass on pursuing LeBron this offseason. As Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN report, the Lakers are focusing their efforts—and their cap space—on the free-agent class of 2019 rather than that of 2018. The 2019 class is indeed ripe with young talent; Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and Jimmy Butler could be among the players on the market.

In 2018, it's expected that LeBron, Paul George, and DeMarcus Cousins will be available. But LeBron, as great as he is, is 33, George seems very interested in sticking with the Thunder, and Cousins just suffered an absolutely debilitating Achilles injury.

This recalibration also reportedly stems from the Lakers' lack of belief that LeBron is actually interested in joining the team. Though L.A. has a bunch of gifted young players—including Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma—there isn't a bona fide star on the roster. LBJ would be taking a big risk by signing with the yellow and purple.

A lot could change in the next few months, of course. The Lakers are still reportedly shopping Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. But with this latest report, it looks a lot less certain that LeBron will head to Hollywood this summer.

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The Lakers Might Call on Kendrick Lamar to Help Improve Their Team

On Monday night at the Staples Center, the Lakers will face the Warriors and there will be a special halftime show commemorating Kobe Bryant. The team plans to retire both jerseys he wore, No. 8 and No. 24, respectively. Since his retirement in April 2016, the Lakers have revitalized the team with a young core; among them are Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and others.

Rob Pelinka, the general manager for the Lakers, is one of the most important people in Kobe’s career. He spent 18 years as his agent before becoming the Lakers GM, and really, one of Kobe’s closest friends. Now, with Bryant away from the purple and gold, Pelinka is finding new ways to spark inspiration within the team, motivating them to reach the caliber and chemistry of past Laker squads.

It starts with talking with a few renaissance men who strive to change the world every day. In an interview with USA Today, Pelinka shared his idea of “Genius Talks.” He brings the team to people who are the absolute best in their industry in order to create an inspired culture within the Laker brand.

The first was Elon Musk, and they visited his SpaceX lab in nearby Hawthorne in October. Pelinka said:

“It was like going to the set of Ironman; just unbelievable. The players were just amazed. It was the coolest thing. One of the guys said (to Musk), 'Well we play against other teams, so how do you study your competition, or what's your way of staying No. 1?' And he said, 'My competition is irrelevant to me. If what I'm doing, I do excellently, then it doesn't matter.' And so you pick up little things like that.”

The next was Jeffrey Katzenberg, who co-founded Dreamworks and was the head of Disney studios from 1984 to 1994. The Hollywood mogul told them, according to Pelinka:

“'You know, when I was making the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, I had a mantra in my head, and it was exceed expectations.'” He said, ‘I wanted to sit in the back of the theater when the kids were watching, and I wanted them to be jumping out of their seat. I wanted to exceed their expectations.’”

A person who will undoubtedly inspire the Lakers is Kendrick Lamar, and it sounds like Pelinka may lock in the TDE rapper for an upcoming session of “Genius Talks.” Lamar's had an incredible year with the release of Damn and his seven Grammy nominations

Pelinka further explains that “Genius Talks” is meant to tap into the team's various interests to make them better people and better basketball players.

“Magic and I wanted to identify geniuses in their space. Our core belief is that more developed men make better basketball players. I think Magic, if you look at how diversified he is with his interests. Kobe, the guy studies everything under the sun. I'm reading a biography right now on Leonardo da Vinci, and he has the ultimate curiosity of all things. If he's painting a hummingbird, he wants to like take its tongue and see what it looks like so he can paint it. So geniuses in life, right, can inspire us on how to be better.”

“So once a month, we try to do that, and the reason that it, to me, is important, is it shows the way we're really trying to do things differently, and it gets back to what I said at the beginning: Support and service. How can we bring things to the guys to make them better human beings and better Lakers basketball players?”

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