As the saying goes, "when stuck in a rut, trade away a third of your roster to rejuvinate your squad."
That's actually not a saying at all, but the practice has seemed to work for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After a very busy trade deadline day, where the Cavs traded away six of their players and received four in return, with the likes of Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade on the out and Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. coming in, Cleveland looks like a brand new team mid-way through the season.
And it showed on the court against Boston, the first game for Nance, Clarkson, Rodney Hood and George Hill. The Cavs defeated the East-leading Celtics 121-99 in TD Garden, spoiling Paul Pierce's jersey retirement ceremony, something the Cavs of two weeks ago had no hope of doing.
It was the first time in months that LeBron looked like he was enjoying his teammates, laughing on the bench after great plays from Jordan Clarkson. After the game, James has high-praise for the new acquisitions.
“At the end of the day, I just like being around guys who want to play and work hard,” James told reporters after the game, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I know I demand a lot of excellence out of my teammates, but I demand out of myself, too. And [when] we [are] on the road, we want to try and play as well as we can, and we want to try to put ourselves in contention to try to compete for another championship, and that’s my mindset.
“I know the guys that’s here, they’re very excited about this opportunity, and it’s my job to keep them excited about being here. They’re joining something that, obviously, the last couple months hasn’t been what we expected, but over the course of the last four years since I came back has been really good basketball. So it’s my job as the leader of this team to make sure that I acclimate the new four guys to be around a culture that’s built on winning and practicing championship habits, so that’s it.”
Hmm, a subtle shot at his former teammates perhaps?
It was previously reported that the Cavaliers didn't actually practice when Thomas, Rose, Wade, Inand others were still on the squad, something that hampered IT's comeback from a hip injury according to him.
Bringing in young, hungry players, who want to prove something on a championship-caliber team may have fixed the Cavs' effort woes, especially on the defensive end. Even if that isn't the case, it seems the new guys have LeBron's seal of approval.