The Los Angeles Lakers completed a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the final hours before the deadline, dealing Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. in exchange for Channing Frye, Isaiah Thomas a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The Cavs were off Thursday night, while the short-handed Lakers faced the Oklahoma City Thunder, who also were without two players in Carmelo Anthony and Russell Wesbtrook due to respective ankle injuries. The Lakers withstood a strong start by Paul George to rout the Thunder.
They’ll next play Saturday, against the Dallas Mavericks in the start of a three-game road trip. “They’re supposed to meet us in Dallas, from my understanding, and be ready to play if we need them,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said of Frye and Thomas.
“Now, it’s tough with brand new guys, obviously we’ll get them a video playbook and have coaches sit with them and walk through some of the stuff we do, but [playing time] is pretty limited when it happens that quickly.”
While the former Cavaliers are going from a championship contender to a franchise still looking to restore its glory, the Lakers are on a four-game winning streak and are 12-4 since Jan. 7. Walton doesn’t anticipate the new additions will disrupt the ryhthym the team has developed.
“We play a certain way, and we hold each other accountable for that. I can’t ask the players to do it if I’m not going to take guys out when they’re not playing that way,” Walton explained.
“I think it’s a little easier to be able to do that when you’re wining games, so that’s nice. I don’t see the new guys having a problem with that. We play a fun style of basketball. We compete, we run, we play fast.
“For those two, the way they shoot the ball, if they’re open I’m going to tell them to shoot it every time. I don’t envision them having an issue with the way that we play.”
To a man, the Lakers expressed a certain level of sadness in seeing Clarkson and Nance get traded, but they’re also welcoming Frye and Thomas with open arms. “They both bring something really good that we need,” Julius Randle said.
“Obviously really excited to get those guys here and have them contribute to what we’re already doing. It’s going to be good.”
Brandon Ingram, who presumably will have some of his point guard responsibilities scaled back, echoed Randle’s sentiment. “We know they’re very talented players,” Ingram said.
“Channing Frye can shoot the three, Isaiah can really get into the lane, draw different defenders, and he can shoot the basketball, of course. We just welcome them with open arms.”
Kyle Kuzma has maintained some level of contact with Thomas since the Lakers played the Cavaliers earlier this season. “He’s one of the best players in the league. Last year averaged 30 (points), he’s a killer,” Kuzma said. “It’s going to be cool that he’s a teammate.”
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERS NATION FORUM CLUB