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NBA Trade Deadline moves morph Cavaliers roster into entirely new team

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NBA Trade Deadline moves morph Cavaliers roster into entirely new team

The Cleveland Cavaliers dropped a bombshell(s) at the 2018 NBA Trade deadline.

Sending away five players and bringing in four new ones, the Cavaliers obviously felt that the current team was not going to compete for an NBA Championship.

In many ways, Cleveland improved and set themselves up for a better future with or without LeBron James.

A cost though was sending nearly everyone that they obtained in the off-season away at this deadline. Isaiah Thomas, who was injured for the first half of the year had not meshed with James and also was caused a stir in the locker room with Kevin Love.

RELATED: ALL ACTION AT THE TRADE DEADLINE

To make a decision more enticing for the Cavaliers, Thomas’ contract was expiring at the end of the season and was going to be an unrestricted free agent.

Those are just a few of the reasons that Cleveland sent Thomas and Channing Frye to the Los Angeles Lakers. In return, the Cavaliers got younger with two 25-year-olds, guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr.

That was just the beginning of a crazy day for basketball in the city of Cleveland.

CAVALIERS TRADE DEADLINE ACQUISITIONS:
Rodney Hood (from Utah in three-way trade)
George Hill (from Sacramento in three-way trade)
Jordan Clarkson (from LA Lakers)
Larry Nance Jr. (from LA Lakers)
Future second-round pick

CAVALIERS TRADE DEADLINE MOVES:
Isaiah Thomas (to LA Lakers)
Channing Frye (to LA Lakers)
Dwyane Wade (to Miami)
Jae Crowder (to Utah)
Derrick Rose (to Utah)
Iman Shumpert (to Sacramento)
2018 First round pick (to LA Lakers)

Once again the Cavaliers’ front office is doing everything that they can to not only get back to the NBA Finals but beat Golden State.    

READ ALSO: DWYANE WADE SENT BACK TO MIAMI

Here is what their roster was BEFORE their buzzer-beating win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night: 

CAVALIERS ROSTER AS OF WEDNESDAY 2/7/18:

Starters:
Isaiah Thomas
JR Smith
LeBron James
Jae Crowder
Kevin Love

Bench:
Jeff Green
Dwyane Wade
Kyle Korver
Tristian Thompson
Cedi Osman
Jose Calderon
Channing Frye
Derrick Rose
Iman Shumpert

John Holland
Ante Zizic
London Perrantes

Here is the Cavaliers' roster AFTER the trade deadline:

CAVALIERS ROSTER AS OF THURSDAY 2/8/18

Starters:
George Hill
JR Smith
LeBron James
Kevin Love
Tristian Thompson

Bench:
Rodney Hood
Jordan Clarkson

Kyle Korver
Larry Nance Jr.
Jeff Green
Cedi Osman
Jose Calderon
John Holland
Ante Zizic
London Perrantes

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What to expect: Urgency and the unknown headline Wizards' return after the All-Star break

What to expect: Urgency and the unknown headline Wizards' return after the All-Star break

The 2019 NBA All-Star weekend is in the books. Now, where were we?

Ah, right, the Wizards in pursuit of an Eastern Conference playoff berth. Washington returns to practice Wednesday and to game action Friday at Charlotte. Before all that, a quick reset and look ahead. 

Yes, things were bumpy before the weeklong break – Washington lost its final two games and seven of 10 to match a season-worst record 10 games under .500. Fortunately, the Wizards (24-34) play in the Eastern Conference which means those postseason hopes remain within arm’s reach (though having Giannis Antetokounmpo’s cartoonish wingspan would help).

Sitting in 11th place, the Wizards must pass three teams to reach the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons. Five teams – Charlotte, Detroit, Miami, Orlando, and Washington – are effectively vying for the final two playoffs spots. The Wizards are 2.5 games back of the Magic, which entered the break winning five in a row, three behind eighth-seeded Pistons, and trail the Hornets by 3.5.

Based on projections from the research website Basketball-Reference, the Magic and Pistons seize the final two berths with 38 wins. For 39 wins, the Wizards must finish 15-9 over their last 24 games. That would become their best stretch of the season considering Washington’s longest winning streak of the season is only three.

Good news: The Wizards have the sixth easiest remaining strength of schedule.

Related news: The Magic has the third easiest, Pistons seventh.

Potentially uh-oh news: Washington, a dismal 7-23 on the road this season, returns with three of four games away from home. 

That’s a lot working against the Wizards. There is where it would be cool to show a stat that provides additional confidence. That’s not happening. There won’t be numbers reflecting downside either beyond the current slide. 

That’s because with John Wall undergoing season-ending Achilles heel surgery, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris playing elsewhere, and several new players on the roster, season-long statistics no longer apply.

Consider the Wizards’ current nine-man rotation based on recent usage. Of those nine, only two-time All-Star Bradley Beal remains in the same role as when the season began. 

Tomas Satoransky and Thomas Bryant moved up the depth chart because of injuries elsewhere. That’s somewhat the case with Jeff Green, though only Beal could rival the veteran’s forward consistency this season. Chasson Randle, now the primary backup point guard, bounced back and forth between the NBA and the G-League for chunks of the season.

The others – Trevor Ariza, Jabari Parker, Wesley Johnson, and Bobby Portis – were not on the team for the opening six weeks of the season. The non-Ariza’s arrived less than two weeks ago. This is effectively a new team, which adds additional challenges for Brooks. 

The unknown is perhaps also Washington’s best hope. 

We could assume plenty, namely that this core is less talented than the one that included Wall, Porter, and Morris. Of course, that group struggled significantly when the season tipped, losing six of seven. 

Meanwhile, the Wizards’ record since Dec. 28 is just a tick underwater (11-12), which isn’t bad when considering the overall record and recent stumbles. Yes, we just explained that many of the current players are new. The enhanced focus and consistency displayed during this stretch should remain with Beal, Ariza, and Green in primary roles. 

We can also note the Wizards are 2-2 in the four games since the pre-deadline deals that brought Portis, Parker, and Johnson to Washington. The last two games, both losses, were without Satoransky, who was away from the team for the birth of his first child. His absence led to several quirky lineups as Brooks tried making do without his lone proven point guard. 

There’s also the notion of the Wizards receiving a more extended look at Portis, a 2019 restricted free agent and possible starting power forward of the future. Portis is averaging 19 points per game while shooting 54.5 percent on 3-pointers. That accuracy isn't sustainable, but it's unclear his overall ceiling after only four games with his new team. 

Additional depth may come in the form of rookie Troy Brown. Washington’s 2018 first-round pick missed the prior six games after suffering a grade-2 sprained ankle against Milwaukee Feb. 2. Before the break, Brooks stated he anticipated Brown returning after the break, though without a specific timeline.  Whether the head coach uses the 6-foot-6 wing regularly as long as Washington remains in the playoff race is another story. 

Future thinking receives headliner status for the remainder of this season. We at least know big decisions lie ahead. Whether this new-ish group finds a playoff groove is part of the unknown.

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Wizards are nearing important decision involving Jordan McRae's two-way contract

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Wizards are nearing important decision involving Jordan McRae's two-way contract

The Washington Wizards return to action after the All-Star break with their next game on Friday against the Hornets. Not long after that, they could have an important roster decision to make.

Guard Jordan McRae is nearing the end of his 45-day two-way clock. Players signed to two-way contracts are allowed a maximum of 45 days at the NBA level and McRae has only nine remaining, according to a person familiar with the situation. 

Once those nine days are up, he will not be allowed to play for the Wizards until the regular season ends for the Capital City Go-Go, their G-League affiliate. The Go-Go play their final game on March 23.

After those 45 days, the Wizards would also have the option to convert McRae's two-way deal to a standard NBA contract. But it appears unlikely they will do that based on the fact they have just $153,433 separating them from the luxury tax threshold (estimate via Spotrac). They just made a pair of trades to get out of the luxury tax and have no plans of going back in.

The 45-day clock has some specific rules that could help the Wizards' cause. Travel days do not count against the 45-day limit and neither do off-days on the road. Five of the Wizards' first eight games out of the break are away from Washington.

The 45 days are also not counted until G-League training camp, which generally begins about a month after NBA camps open. So, the 45-day maximum can technically be stretched to around 70 over the course of a full NBA season.

McRae, 27, has appeared in 19 games for the Wizards after joining them as a free agent last summer. He is averaging 4.3 points in 9.1 minutes at the NBA level.

He has been a star for the Go-Go, averaging 29.9 points (most in the G-League), 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He was named a G-League mid-season All-Star.

Surely, McRae would like an NBA contract, but it's worth noting he gets paid more money the more time he spends with the Wizards. Two-way players can earn roughly $300,000 more by playing out their 45 allotted days in the NBA.

Also, the Wizards would like to keep him beyond this season, according to someone with knowledge of their plans. They see him as part of a growing group of players they would like to retain that is headlined by Tomas Satoransky and Thomas Bryant. To keep McRae, they can make him a restricted free agent.

If the Wizards don't convert his contract, however, McRae will not be eligible for the playoffs this spring, if Washington is to qualify.

At this point, it appears likely the Wizards avoid McRae's 45-day clock from expiring. In order to do that, they may have to keep him down with the Go-Go for much longer than they would prefer to.

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