Cleveland Cavaliers trade Dwyane Wade back to Miami Heat

With their NBA title hopes fading fast, the Cleveland Cavaliers completely changed their look trading six players in a stunning sequence of deals on Thursday.

Among those gone are Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose.

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They also traded two future draft picks in moves designed to not only help them in the short term but potentially help keep LeBron James beyond this season.

Just like that, the Cavs changed nearly half their roster, got younger and maybe wedged themselves back into contention.

Dwyane Wade is heading back to the Miami Heat.
Dwyane Wade is heading back to the Miami Heat. Photo: AP

Wade was traded back to the Miami Heat for a heavily protected second-round pick. He spent his first 13 seasons with the Heat after being the fifth overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft, and recently said that his goal was still to retire as a member of the team.

He is the organisation's all-time leader in numerous categories, including games played (855), points (20,221), assists (4944) and steals (1414).

Thomas and forward Channing Frye went to the LA Lakers in exchange for guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr.

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The Lakers also received a top-three protected 2018 first-round pick.

Cleveland has traded Isaiah Thomas.
Cleveland has traded Isaiah Thomas. Photo: AP

After reaching a buyout with the Chicago Bulls last off-season, Wade considered the Heat among several potential destinations.

He ultimately decided to reunite with LeBron James on a one-year deal with Cleveland, but has been part of a Cavs team that has struggled to find consistency this season.

He is averaging 11.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 23.2 minutes in 46 games in a reserve role.

Wade, who turned 36 on January 17, acknowledged last week that he would be lying if he said he had not thought about closing out his career in a Heat jersey.

"When that opportunity comes, that day comes, hopefully, I can go out in a Miami Heat jersey," he said.

"I don't know how it will be, but I would love it.

"For me, I'm at the point where you get this high up in years played in the NBA, you kind of take the summer to think about what you want as a player and go from there.

"For me, the arena that I walked in to play, I would like to leave in."

Thomas averaged just 14.7 points for the Cavaliers and said Wednesday night he hoped to remain in Cleveland, but his defensive issues and a shooting percentage hovering at 36.1 per cent created tension in the Cleveland locker room, according to reports.

"Jordan and Larry add athleticism, energy and length to both ends of the court for us," Cavs general manager Koby Altman said in a press release. "This trade is also a reflection of our continuing commitment to invest in our roster in ways that help us evolve and compete at the highest level now and into the future."

"Channing Frye is a champion, true pro and great person," Altman added. "He has been part of a special group of teammates on and off the court for us, as his impacts were both tangible and intangible. It is difficult to see him go and we wish Channing and his family the very best.

"IT has had a difficult and very challenging basketball journey over the last year as he has worked extremely hard to make progress in his return to play. He is a true competitor and that will certainly help him in his continued work on the court."

The Cavs sent Rose, who has also been slowed by injury, and forward Jae Crowder to the Jazz for forward Rodney Hood. They’ll receive guard George Hill from the Kings in exchange for guard Iman Shumpert, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity while the teams awaited league approval.

In an interesting plot twist, the deal with Cleveland sets Los Angeles up to have the type of excess salary-cap space necessary to make a run at James in July.

The Lakers and first-year general manager Rob Pelinka untie themselves from long-term commitments – namely to Clarkson – that could have prevented the flexibility to add James and/or Paul George, two of the top potential free agents this summer.

Thomas is playing on an expiring contract – he will become a free agent in July – which made him attractive for the Lakers, who will now have the space to add two max contracts in 2018 or '19.

Clarkson is averaging 14.5 points and 3.3 assists per game this season.

Thomas has played for the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics and Cavaliers. He was acquired from Boston in the offseason trade involving Kyrie Irving. But since returning from rehabilitation of a hip injury, Thomas has been inconsistent.

"I'm tired of being traded. That's not a good thing, but I just want to be where I'm wanted," Thomas said recently. "I like it here [at the Cavs]. It hasn't been as planned, but I definitely want to be here. We definitely have a real chance to win an NBA championship, and I want to be a part of that."

AP, Reuters

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