Cleveland GM Altman: Cavs were marching a slow death before trades


Koby Altman said the Cleveland Cavaliers "were marching a slow death" prior to the NBA's trade deadline as Isaiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade departed the franchise.

The Cavaliers traded guard Thomas, Channing Frye and their 2018 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr. And they were just getting started.

Cleveland later orchestrated a three-team deal with the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz.

It sent Utah's Rodney Hood and Sacramento's George Hill to Cleveland with Cavs players Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose moving to the Jazz.

The Kings acquired Joe Johnson from Utah and Iman Shumpert and a second-round pick from the Cavs. 

Another trade saw veteran guard Wade return to the Miami Heat in exchange for a protected 2024 second-round draft pick. The trade also created a traded player exception for the Cavaliers in the amount of approximately $1.5million.

"I'm a little numb," Cavs general manager Altman quipped during a media conference call on Thursday, adding that he was "running on fumes."

"Did we think we were going to get this much done? No," said Altman, who added he wanted to get "youthful wings" who could play right away and felt Wade's minutes would continue to be reduced. 

"I think it's obvious the goal was to get younger," Altman said. "We got more talented and certainly more athletic."

Altman said he wanted to "shuffle the deck" and re-energise the Cavaliers. Altman added the team had lacked energy and enthusiasm and he wanted to "improve the culture."

He thanked the traded players, specifically Shumpert and Frye. He said the new Cavs players were excited, especially Akron native Nance.

"We want fountains, not drains. I need to bring in fountains and I think that's what we did," Altman said, adding the younger players can rejuvenate All-Star forward LeBron James. 

"He's the key," Altman said, adding James offered input on who the team could acquire. "He's the guy who's going to take us back to the promised land, so we want to put the right pieces around him."

Altman believes the younger players will not only keep the Cavs sustainable for the long-term, but will convince James to finish his career with the Cavaliers.

"We can create a culture here that everyone can be a part of," Altman said. "These trades certainly put a wind in our sails."

Altman said he did not want to trade Thomas, who was acquired from Boston last August in a deal that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics.

Ultimately Altman said Thomas just was not "the right fit" and wanted to add more athleticism around James. 

"We were marching a slow death and we didn't want to be a part of that," Altman said. "I needed to put a lot more live bodies out there with players who are quicker to the ball so we can have fun out there. We have a healthy franchise right now."