These are not your January’s Cleveland Cavaliers. If Cavs GM Koby Altman is worried about losing LeBron James, he’s going down swinging. The Cavs struck numerous moves ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, including a three-team deal with the Jazz and Kings that will send guards Rodney Hood and George Hill to the Cavs. In the deal, Sacramento acquires Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert and $3 million in cash, while the Jazz add Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose.
Hood was being aggressively pursued by many teams around the league, while Hill has been rumored to join Cleveland for weeks. The Cavs have been struggling for weeks, but they don’t appear ready to throw in the towel. Let’s grade the Hood-Hill deal for each team.
Cleveland Cavaliers: A
Coupled with their other moves, this trade makes a lot of sense for the Cavs. The now-departed Isaiah Thomas was leaking oil and hurting the team on both sides of the court. In Hood, Cleveland receives a young wing who can help on the perimeter this season—and potentially get a new deal in the summer as part of a rebuild. Hood should offer a little bit more 3-and-D than J.R. Smith has offered so far this season, and his 25-year-old legs will be especially welcome on a team that often looks like it’s running in mud. Hood is already shooting nearly 39% from three this year—imagine what he can do catching open looks from LeBron James?
Hill’s acquisition is a little more dicey. He’s been awful on defense for the Kings, and he’s owed big money next season. There’s some hope, however, that Hill can regain the defensive form that made him a difference maker in Indiana and Utah. If the new situation energizes Hill, Cleveland is acquiring another dead-eye shooter (45% from three!) who can also be a secondary ball-handler on offense. Again, a lot of this trade depends on Hill rediscovering his old form, but it’s a worthy gamble for the Cavs, who were clearly upset with their point guard situation headed into the deadline.
Utah Jazz: C
On one hand, it’s a little disappointing that Hood only fetched Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose in return. Rose will be bought out, while Crowder is added on a fairly cheap deal through 2020. Something like 20 teams were reportedly interested in Hood, so it would have been nice to get a more substantial long-term piece in return. On the other hand, this has been a fickle trade market, and despite the flurry of moves, not a lot of first-round picks are switching hands. Crowder has struggled in Cleveland, but maybe he will fit in more with the blue-collar Jazz. Utah still has some useful pieces around Donovan Mitchell, and they may be one good tank away from becoming playoff contenders again.
Sacramento Kings: Sure, Why Not?
The Kings were merely facilitators in this trade. They received Joe Johnson, who will likely get bought out, an injured Iman Shumpert (who has a player option for next season), a 2020 second-round pick, and some cash. It’s not a bad move for the Kings—getting rid of Hill’s contract and opening up playing time for their youngsters is a net good. But this deal doesn’t exactly move the needle in Sacramento either. So it’s...whatever. Thank you Sacramento for allowing all this other craziness to happen, though. We do appreciate you for that.