The Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers completed one of the biggest deals at the trade deadline this season. The Lakers sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and the Cavaliers’ first-round pick.
The deal accomplished big goals for the Lakers as they are now able to clear out salary cap space for two max-level contracts, with the obvious main target being Cavaliers All-Star LeBron James.
However, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, one Eastern Conference executive believes the Lakers may have actually hurt their odds of signing LeBron as a free agent:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays in Cleveland now,” one high-ranking Eastern Conference team executive said. “The Cavaliers put a really good team around him. The Cavaliers have made it really tough for him to decide to leave Cleveland again. The Lakers might have helped them keep LeBron.”
The irony of this idea is that the immediate aftermath of the trade seemed focused on the opposite, because the Cavs aided the Lakers in creating necessary cap space to lure LeBron and another star, perhaps Paul George, to Los Angeles.
Some of that has to do with the results of each side since the trade. The Cavaliers have had impressive wins over the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder, while the Lakers have dropped three straight since Thomas and Frye joined the team.
In the end, no one knows exactly what the outcome will ultimately become until free agency begins this summer and decisions are made. Both sides accomplished what they were setting out to do at the deadline and whether that helps them out in the long run won’t be known for some time.
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