Heading into the final day of the NBA’s trade deadline, things were pretty dull on the trade market with the Detroit Pistons trading for former L.A. Clippers star Blake Griffin being the biggest move up until that point. But around lunchtime, the Cleveland Cavaliers, staying strong with the season’s theme of constant drama, turned the NBA world on its head with general manager Koby Altman launching a tactical nuke at the Cavs’ roster.
By the 3 p.m. EST deadline, the Cavaliers had shipped out Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye to the Los Angeles Lakers, Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose to the Utah Jazz, Iman Shumpert to the Sacramento Kings, and Dwyane Wade to the Miami Heat, and brought in Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. from the Lakers, George Hill from the Kings, and Rodney Hood from the Jazz all while keeping the coveted 2018 Brooklyn Nets first-round draft selection.
In three very decisive trades, Altman proved to everyone in the Association and on the Cavs roster, especially LeBron James, that he learned quite a bit from his mentor and former Cavs GM David Griffin by shipping out assets that were either untouchable, like Shumpert and his contract, too toxic, like Thomas and Crowder (who were the ones who tried to put all the teams’ faults on Kevin Love), and all the while kept their best possible asset in the Nets pick.
Altman has now shown to veterans like James and Love, the teams’ best players, that he has a master plan to help the team win now and in the future. With George, they were able to find a stable option at point guard who can hit 3-point shots and is a hard-nosed defender, something Isaiah Thomas could never be.
Altman also got a young, reliable scoring guard in Clarkson who will provide a proper spark off the bench in a myriad of ways, unlike Rose or Wade who both were totally unable to hit a 3-point shot. He also will be able to keep the Cavaliers’ youth movement going as the Nets pick currently has a 14.9% chance of being a top-three pick in the upcoming draft and can add a young player in a draft that has not been this hyped since 2003.
The final player that the Cavs added to their roster, Rodney Hood, really is the icing on the cake for what was a motherload of talent acquired. In his first game with the Wine and Golders against the Boston Celtics, Hood was sensational off the bench with 15 points, three rebounds, one block, and one steal in just 19 minutes of play. Hood was also joined by the rest of the newest members of the Cavs in playing great in the debut against the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics:
The thing that really sets Hood apart from players like Clarkson and Nance in terms of his future prospects with the Cavs, is the fact that he has the greatest star potential out of the three of them and can quickly become the face of the Cavaliers franchise in the event LeBron James does leave following this season.
Coming out of Duke University a few seasons ago, Hood was originally slotted to go in the teens in the 2014 NBA Draft but fell to 23rd overall before being selected by the Utah Jazz. Part of the reason Hood fell was the fact that some teams questioned his athleticism, his defensive ability, the fact that he is so mild-mannered, and that he was overshadowed by fellow teammate Jabari Parker while with the Blue Devils.
Now with a few seasons under his belt, Hood has answered all of the questions about his ability and then some and is arguably considered a steal in what was a largely disappointing draft class from 2014. During his rookie season, Hood was one of just five first-round selections in his class to average 8.7-plus points as a rookie, and the others all went in the top 16 picks; including former-Cavalier Andrew Wiggins and Hood’s old teammate Parker.
After his rookie season, his scoring ability continued to grow and has his best season was his second season as a full-time starter with averages of 14.5 points, 2.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and nearly a steal a game.
After his first three seasons with the Jazz, Hood looked like he had the makings of being a face of the franchise with star forward Gordon Hayward electing to join the Celtics. Instead, Hood was usurped by rookie Donovan Mitchell, who has been arguably the best player in his draft class with averages of 19.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and is in the tops of the Rookie of the Year conversation. With Mitchell taking the lead role, Hood was relegated to a sixth-man role for the Jazz and responded remarkably with averages of 16.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and almost a steal a game. So when Hood was traded to Cleveland, it was a surprise coming out of Salt Lake City (although there were many rumors that Utah was thinking about trading him) as he clearly seemed like a major part of the team’s future plans but now that Hood is with the Cavs they have a superstar of their own in the making.
While he came off the bench for his first game for The Land, and probably will for his next game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cavs fans should not be surprised if Hood eventually replaces Cedi Osman and eventually JR Smith in the teams’ starting unit. While Osman has been a revelation for the Cavs (after Ty Lue let the kid play) with his scoring, energy, and grit, he best serves the role of the Cavs’ next iteration of Matthew Dellavedova and Anderson Varejao off the bench for the team. With Smith, the fact that he has found a bit of his mojo the last few games with averages of 14 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in the Cavs last three wins, this feels like fool’s gold right now as Smith has had plenty of stinkers this season in terms of scoring and defense.
With Hood, the Cavs will have the missing scoring threat that Smith has failed to provide for the majority of the season, as he can score both inside and out, with the most money 3-point shot that I have ever seen. He also is a large body at 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan and is able to easily keep his opponents in front of him on defense, unlike Smith has plenty of times this season. In one of his last games with the Jazz, Hood put on display a myriad of ways to score against the New Orleans Pelicans:
The other thing that benefits Hood is the fact that he has already played with George Hill, the Cavs’ newest starting point guard before, for a full season with the Jazz. The backcourt tandem of Hood and Hill was a part of the reason why the Jazz had the fifth best overall team defense during the 2016-17 season, and can continue the magic in The Land this season as well.
Even though Hood has clearly shown that he is a diamond in the rough and an up and coming star in the NBA, the Cavs will have some competition in Hood’s upcoming free agency this summer. Before the trade deadline, nearly twenty teams were interested in adding Hood to their roster according to Sports Illustrated, as the Jazz were looking to move him.
Thankfully for the Cavs, Hood will be a restricted free agent and they do have his Bird Rights, which means they will be able to match any offer Hood garners over the summer, which they should. But my gut tells me when things get closer to the extension deadline, the Cavs and Hood will come to an agreement to keep Hood in The Land for years to come as his elite 3-point sniping will be a core part of the Cavs’ offense.
If LeBron James does leave the Cavaliers following this season (which probably won’t happen as the Cavs can probably offer him the best chance at a title through the twilight of his career), they have found a true gem in Rodney Hood at the NBA’s trade deadline who will be a huge part of the teams’ future success. James, alongside a player like Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter Jr., DeAndre Ayton, or even Luka Doncic selected with the 2018 Nets pick, with Kevin Love also in the fold becomes even crazier with Hood also joining the discussion as well. The Cavs, who had one of the bleakest situations heading into the trade deadline, came out like bandits afterward by getting younger and landing a future face of the franchise in Rodney Hood as well.
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