Larry Nance Jr. longed to participate in in the Slam Dunk Contest, and this year a dream of his came true. Adding to the sentimental value of following in his father’s footsteps was that Nance would take center stage on NBA All-Star Saturday Night as a hometown representative at Staples Center.
But the Los Angeles Lakers flipped that on its head with a deadline-day trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nance, along with Jordan Clarkson, were traded to the Cavs in exchange for Channing Frye, Isaiah Thomas and a first-round pick in the 2018 Draft.
Although the third-year forward was uprooted for the first time in his professional career, the trade represented an opportunity for the Akron, Ohio, native to head home and play for the same franchise his father did.
That hasn’t removed all ties Nance feels when it comes to the Lakers. “I’m still a little bit purple and gold,” he said on NBA All-Star practice Media Day. “I just hope I get embraced like that tonight.
“I wouldn’t trade [time with Lakers] for the world. I’m incredibly thankful to everybody for picking me. I don’t know if I’d be here without them. My years spent here were awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Despite now being a member of the Cavaliers, Nance presumably will be greeted with a hero’s welcome considering he was a fan-favorite while playing for the Lakers. Had he still remained with the team, his dunks on Saturday night were going to involve Lonzo Ball and Magic Johnson.
Although Ball and Johnson likely would be willing to still assist Nance, he wasn’t keen on the possibility. “We’re still boys, but I don’t know if anybody has ever used a prop that they’re not on the same team with,” Nance said.
He did say an option to work around that is finding a replacement for Ball. Forced to pivot, and competing against smaller players, Nance remains confident. “I’ve got some stuff that makes a big guy look good,” he said.
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