Cavaliers will be missing new pieces against Hawks
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ATLANTA -- The revamped Cleveland Cavaliers will be short-handed for Friday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks, but they feel much better about their chances of making it to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight season after a flurry of deadline trades.
The Cavaliers got younger, more athletic and better defensively around centerpiece LeBron James as they sent away six players and got back four Thursday in three deals.
Cleveland (31-22) added guards George Hill and Jordan Clarkson, swingman Rodney Hood and power forward Larry Nance Jr. while shipping out guards Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert, and forwards Jae Crowder and Channing Frye.
First-year general manager Koby Altman pulled the trigger on the moves, which meant a money hit for owner Dan Gilbert, with the Cavaliers mired in a 7-13 slump.
Altman said the shuffled roster reflects "our continuing commitment to invest in our roster in ways that help us evolve and compete at the highest level now and into the future."
Thomas and Crowder were acquired in the offseason trade of Kyrie Irving to Boston, but Thomas, second in the NBA in scoring last season, was slow to come back from hip surgery and neither he nor Crowder seemed a good fit with the Cavaliers.
With the players acquired by the Cavaliers not all expected to be available against the Hawks, Cleveland will recall guard London Perrantes and forward John Holland, both two-way players, from the G-League.
Hill gives the Cavaliers a veteran point guard who can defend, and Hood and Clarkson are young players who can score. Hood was averaging 16.8 points as a starter for Utah and Clarkson contributed 14.5 points off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Nance, who was averaging 8.6 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Lakers, gives Cleveland help inside. His father was a two-time all-star with the Cavaliers.
The Hawks (17-38) made only a few minor moves at the deadline, one of which sent little-used Luke Babbitt back to Miami. Neither trade brought back a player or draft pick.
Fellow veteran forwards Mario Belinelli, who missed two games pending a possible trade, and Ersan Illyasova stayed put, with Illyasova exercising his right to reject a deal not to his liking.
"We think cap space will be very valuable this summer, especially based on the way the deadline went," Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said. "We are in a position where we don't have to do a deal we are not comfortable with."
Friday's game is the second of a back-to-back for the Hawks, who lost 100-98 in Orlando on Thursday, and the third game in four days for the Cavaliers.
Cleveland lost 116-98 at Orlando on Tuesday, scoring only nine points in the fourth quarter, but bounced back for a 140-138 overtime victory at home over the Minnesota Timberwolves on James' buzzer-beating jumper the next night.
James had 37 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds against the Timberwolves.
The Cavaliers and Hawks are meeting for the last time this season, with Cleveland having won the past two games after dropping the first.
The Cavaliers fell 117-115 at home as part of their 5-7 start to the season as the Hawks snapped an eight-game losing streak before winning 121-114 in Atlanta and 123-114 at Cleveland during the 18-1 stretch that followed.
James shined in all three games against the Hawks, the last of which was Dec. 12, averaging 25 points, 14 assists and six rebounds.
Updated February 8, 2018