The Day The NBA Wrapped Itself Around LeBron’s Finger

An inarguably way-too-in-depth diary of a bonkers NBA trade deadline.
We're not going to say Isaiah Thomas and LeBron James hate each other, but we're not going to <i>not</i> say that, if you kno
We're not going to say Isaiah Thomas and LeBron James hate each other, but we're not going to not say that, if you know what we mean.

Just before 2 a.m. on Thursday morning, or about 13 hours before the NBA trade deadline, the human scoop otherwise known as Adrian Wojnarowski faked the basketball world out of its collective pair of shoes, telling his 2 million-plus followers that the fast-approaching deadline was looking like it would be something of a dud. 

He was wrong. Around noon on Thursday, the trade deadline quickly ramped up into hyper-speed, when Woj himself sent out another bomb stating that the Cleveland Cavaliers were trading away Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and a protected 2018 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. From there, it only got more obscene. 

To try and process the head-spinning ridiculousness of it all, we decided to just open a group chat and process everything together. For transparency’s sake, Travis is a Washington Wizards fan, Ja’han is a Phoenix Suns fan and Maxwell is a Lakers fan. 

[1:30 PM]

Maxwell Strachan: OK, it’s 1:30 p.m. and the Cleveland Cavaliers have just blown up the NBA.

Travis Waldron: I still don’t know what to make of it, other than the NBA is magic. This was supposed to be a slow day!

Maxwell Strachan: The memes have begun.

Travis Waldron: Only in the NBA ― and only in LeBron World, really ― could we get a game as a dramatic as that Cavs-TimberPups thriller last night ... only to see an entire new Cavs roster tomorrow night.

Maxwell Strachan: 

Travis Waldron: I think the Cavs are better now.

Ja’han Jones: I’ve always loved how, despite the animus folks feel toward ‘Bron, none of us can deny the league revolves around him. He’s literally changing folks’ career trajectory with subtweets and dirty looks.

Maxwell Strachan: Is it selfish that I want the Cavs to trade everyone else too?
Trade the Nets pick for DeAndre and Love for Kemba, just do it.

Travis Waldron: Tristan and the Brooklyn pic for DeAndre. Love for ... someone with two hands. Keep J.R., because J.R.

Maxwell Strachan: Exactly. I’m loving this Woj tweet from 11 hours ago: 

Travis Waldron: Tristan and the Brooklyn pick is too much to give for DeAndre, but you get the point.

Maxwell Strachan: Doesn’t matter. Lean in to the insanity ― this is the NBA.

Travis Waldron: I think Maxwell and I are in agreement that, entertainment value aside, the Cavs are better positioned for the playoffs now. Ja’han?

Ja’han Jones: I agree with that. Their previous roster was full of guys we knew but guys who were never *great* fits with their previous organizations.

Maxwell Strachan: And they all hated each other!!! Thomas’ final moment with the Cavs was getting totally ignored by LeBron after a game-winner. It’s almost poetic. 

[1:35 PM]

Ja’han Jones: I genuinely aspire toward Isaiah’s self-confidence and self-assuredness.

Travis Waldron: They flipped a bunch of parts that weren’t working/didn’t get along/couldn’t trust Kevin Love for three dudes under 25 ... and they kept the Brooklyn pick (so far)! They still royally screwed up the Kyrie trade this summer, but this was about as good as you could do to get out of it. 

I think this roster is spicy: 

I’d start Hill > Clarkson, though.

Maxwell Strachan: I love it for the Cavs. If LeBron leaves, they aren’t making the finals for another decade anyway, might as well go out in firing. Again, I’d throw out the Brooklyn pick and just give it one more go. They are going to have a decade’s worth of top-10 picks post-LeBron anyway.

Travis Waldron: Hold on I have to check Twitter in case Woj is still bombing us.

Maxwell Strachan: In 16 tweets, Woj broke the internet.

Ja’han Jones: That man’s end-of-the-day unwinding routine has to be CRAZY.

Maxwell Strachan: I would be scared to have that power.

Travis Waldron: I’m going to regret saying this but my favorite part of this deadline is still that Ernie Grunfeld hasn’t traded a first-round pick for an aging role player who won’t still be in Washington this summer. Day is young, though.

Maxwell Strachan: Just want to make sure this makes it into the post.

And Travis, no one cares about the Wizards.

Ja’han Jones: How do we think Isaiah fits in LA?

Travis Waldron: That’s a good question.

Maxwell Strachan: He’ll be fun! And if he sucks, LA will move on.

[1:40 PM]

Travis Waldron: It doesn’t matter this year. The question for me is where he ends up this summer. And I’m sorry but lots of people care about the Wizards. Me, John Wall, maybe Bradley Beal. That’s 2.5.

Maxwell Strachan:  The most likely scenario is he sucks less than he did in Cleveland, then the Lakers move on in order to sign ... LEBRON JAMES.

Maxwell Strachan: By the way, the Cavs just cleared the way for the Lakers to sign LeBron.

Ja’han Jones: LeBron going to the Lakers is both a nightmare and a dream for me. 

Travis Waldron: This is all a ploy to keep LeBron from signing in LA. “Oh, you want to go to the Lakers. We’ll just give the Lakers the guy you hate the most.”

Maxwell Strachan: Strong disagree! Lakers are playing chess. What would LeBron love more than to sign with the Lakers and screw up Thomas’ life once again?

Travis Waldron: I like this move for the Lakers. Even LeBron potential aside.

Ja’han Jones: I DESPISE the Lakers and wish them nothing but ill, non-injurious will. But the idea of that franchise hanging on the every word of a man they’ve spent a decade loathing brings me some happiness.

Travis Waldron: But we have to get back to the central point, which is that LeBron James is quite possibly the most powerful man in the history of pro basketball. The Cavs just flipped their entire roster *with no guarantee that LeBron is going to stay.*

Ja’han Jones: For real! Like, after Big O, I think ’Bron is the most influential player in league history when it comes to the business of the league and how players determine their own future.

[1:45 PM]

Travis Waldron: Right, Big O is up there. But LeBron has now engineered, what, three of the biggest off-the-court, landscape-shifting days in recent NBA history.

Maxwell Strachan: It’s fine. They gotta go for it.

Travis Waldron: The Decision, I’m Coming Home, and now this?

Maxwell Strachan: And the Lakers now are set up to get Paul George and be able to keep Lonzo, Kuzma, Ingram and Randle

Travis Waldron: Stop talking about the Lakers.

Maxwell Strachan: Everyone will understand if he leaves. The Lakers are the NBA’s team! People hate [Cavaliers owners Dan] Gilbert enough that I think people won’t be mad if LeBron leaves. Or am I wrong?

Travis Waldron: We’ve got LeBron James blowing up the entire league and you want to talk about Julius Randle. I went to Kentucky and I don’t even care that much about Julius Randle.

Maxwell Strachan: A critical piece of the NBA puzzle! As an aside, Woj mini-alert ...

Sorry, I meant Shams.

Travis Waldron: Man.

Maxwell Strachan: This is the darkest timeline.

Ja’han Jones: Damn. What a fall from grace.

Travis Waldron: You just disrespected Shams more than Derrick Rose has disrespected his career.

Maxwell Strachan: Fun fact: Derrick Rose is the oldest 29-year-old in the world.

Travis Waldron: Other than you.

Ja’han Jones: That brother has lived three lifetimes, I swear.

Maxwell Strachan: I am convinced Shams and Woj were born in the same petri dish.

Travis Waldron: Are the Cavs the best team in the East now? I need a live feed on Kyrie.

Maxwell Strachan: Let me look at that lineup again

It’s ... not bad?

Travis Waldron: Again: I’d start Hill over Clarkson, but Clarkson gives you some late-game flexibility.

Maxwell Strachan: You definitely start Hill.

Travis Waldron: Nance actually wins the day here. 

Maxwell Strachan: Him and Jordan Clarkson are about to become famous.

Ja’han Jones: I’ve never wavered in my belief that the Cavs are still better than Boston.

[1:50 PM]

Maxwell Strachan: They certainly will be better on defense with Nance in the mix. Oh my God. Alert.

Ja’han Jones: Minnesota is close to home. Might be ... good? Iunno.

Maxwell Strachan: Thibs-Rose reunion.

Travis Waldron: Just what a young team on the cusp of breaking through needs: Derrick Rose. What could go wrong?

Maxwell Strachan: Derrick Rose is about to play 40 minutes a game until he tears his ACL for the 14th time.

Travis Waldron: Anyway: The Cavs are going back to the Finals.

Maxwell Strachan: Now, yes, I see that. I just can’t believe in the Raptors. And the Celtics rookies are going to go weak in the playoffs.

Travis Waldron: But I still don’t think this team is built to challenge Golden State or Houston unless something goes drastically wrong for one of those two.

Maxwell Strachan: I love these little updates on deadline day.

Travis Waldron: Bruno!

Maxwell Strachan: No one is beating Golden State or Houston.

Ja’han Jones: After seeing that photo of Demar Derozan with Lil Romeo on their youth team, I just can’t believe in any team he’s on. It’s not fair to him, but that’s where I am.

Travis Waldron:  

[Our curmudgeonly manager] Tommy Craggs [1:52 PM]

Thibs wants to finish the job he started
Rose is gonna die at midcourt
That’s the only way for this NBA season to end

Maxwell Strachan: I can’t see it ending any other way.

Travis Waldron: I can’t wait to see the salt levels on Kyrie’s face if the Cavs knock Boston out of the playoffs.

Maxwell Strachan: 

Travis Waldron: That’s a bad tweet.

Maxwell Strachan: We’ve reached “corporate jokes” levels of trending.

Travis Waldron: I know you love the brands, Maxwell, but leave them out of this.

Maxwell Strachan: The Wolves should grab Deng and Noah too. By the way, there’s no way Thibs will not have run KAT and Wiggins into the ground by the time they are 27.

Travis Waldron: It’s going to be so sad when he ruins KAT.

Ja’han Jones: I still think Noah is serviceable.

Maxwell Strachan: Ja’han. Please take that back.

Travis Waldron:  Serviceable at what?

Ja’han Jones: Lol, he’s a big man with good court vision. In a league where Zaza exists, there’s room for Joakim. Haha

Maxwell Strachan: I’m pretty sure Noah is just partying in New York.

Travis Waldron: Anyway, I have to make a phone call. Cavs in 7.

Maxwell Strachan: IN THE FINALS? Are you kidding me.

Travis Waldron: Necessarily ambiguous. Leave it up to the imagination.

Maxwell Strachan: Ridiculous, and I love it.

Ja’han Jones: There we go! Talk that talk, Travis! I’m still rolling with the Cavs!

Travis Waldron: Look, I’m just here for the NBA going fully insane. God bless LeBron.

Maxwell Strachan: Travis is trying to end this chat as if something insane isn’t going to happen in the next hour.

Travis Waldron: I’ll be back. The NBA is my drug.

[2:00 PM]

Ja’han Jones: Dear God.

Travis Waldron: What, like, that Kendrick Perkins?

Ja’han Jones: The Enforcer.

Maxwell Strachan: Back from the dead.

Travis Waldron: I just learned that as of two days ago, the Canton Charge’s Kendrick Perkins was planning to retire from the G League. Now he’s going to sit on the plane* next to LeBron. What a world.

*Not ready to assume he gets to sit on the bench.

Maxwell Strachan: I love the NBA. 

Ja’han Jones: If you get in good with ’Bron, you’re set for LIFE.

Travis Waldron: It’s the best thing we, as a country, have.

Maxwell Strachan: Knicks get in this!

Travis Waldron: Mudiay lives.

Maxwell Strachan: This is very Knicks, but I ... I kind of like it. Depending on what they trade him for. Since it’s the Knicks I’m going to assume it’s for Kristaps.

[2:05 PM]

Maxwell Strachan: Hm.

Travis Waldron: Every time I see Woj tweet I get excited and now he wants me to care about Devin Harris. ANNOUNCE DEANDRE.

Maxwell Strachan: Is this a good trade? I guess I dig this trade for the Knicks. Trade a serviceable role player for a reclamation project that was drafted near the top of the draft just a couple years ago. 

(As an aside, from a friend: “i have 10 tabs open and 6 of them are woj tweets.”)

Travis Waldron: Who cares.

Maxwell Strachan: I’m going to go to my Knicks friends for reactions.

Travis Waldron: I don’t care about anything but Tristan for DeAndre.

Maxwell Strachan: It’s happening. I believe.

Ja’han Jones: I feel for Tristan. Dude never asked to play the five, yet we judge him on his inability to do so. Lol

Maxwell Strachan: Me: “Knicks just traded McDermott for Emanuel mudiay. Immediate reaction?“ Knicks fan friend: “Why?” I guess that says it all.

[2:10 PM]

Travis Waldron: “Who are the Knicks.”

Maxwell Strachan: To be fair, he’s been rather despondent since Kristaps tore his ACL.

Maxwell Strachan: Oh, wait, I like it less now lol.

Travis Waldron: You keep telling me about this trade and I forgot that New York or Dallas had NBA teams. @wojespn, announce DeAndre.

Maxwell Strachan: Missed this, but good. 

Ja’han Jones: Astute observation, Joel. 

Maxwell Strachan: I feel like DeAndre has been on the trading block since the first years of the Obama administration.

Ja’han Jones: Literally.

Maxwell Strachan: Posted at 10:03 a.m.:

Travis Waldron: Damn. We should have known Isaiah was gone last night when he was waving his arms at the top of the key in OT and LeBron just ducked his head and went to the rack. 1 on 3.

[2:15 PM]

Ja’han Jones: Lol, “I got this one, lil fella.”

Maxwell Strachan: I’m so old I remember when LeBron was considered the greatest teammate in the league two years ago. 

Travis Waldron: When your guy decides to go at Andrew Wiggins and Karl Towns by himself without even looking at you, you gotta see the writing on the wall.

Maxwell Strachan: 

Travis Waldron: My god.

Maxwell Strachan: Has anyone ever killed more of the goodwill surrounding them than I.T. in the last, oh, 10 months?

Travis Waldron: Isaiah has had a worse past 365 days than the United States.

Maxwell Strachan: I.T. has been on the Lakers for like 5 minutes and he’s already ruining everything.

Ja’han Jones: My man just won’t let ANYONE tell him he’s better as a bench guy. He needs to take the Lou Williams route. I’m waiting for the Big Baller Brand-Isaiah chat.

Travis Waldron: I need a LaVar-Isaiah Facebook show ASAP.

[2:20 PM]

Maxwell Strachan: Kill me.

Travis Waldron: Isaiah is gonna end up in Lithuania with LeMelo and LiAngelo before Easter.

Maxwell Strachan: And that would be an optimistic outcome. Is Isaiah Thomas going to be happy backing up 20-year-old rookie Lonzo Ball? (That was a joke.)

Travis Waldron: Was it?

Maxwell Strachan: I love when Woj sprinkles in a silly little trade like this. Lightens the mood.

 [2:25 PM]

Maxwell Strachan: NOOOOOO.

Travis Waldron: Oh, come on.

Ja’han Jones: Drat.

Maxwell Strachan: Thirty more minutes. I think Woj has one more bomb in him.

Travis Waldron: That means ... Oubre for DAJ is happening. I’m going to hate the NBA by the end of this.

Ja’han Jones: Where is Kyle Singler going to end up? That’s the real question.

Maxwell Strachan: I feel like there will be some automated high-frequency trades in the final 60 seconds. Ja’han always asks the right questions.

Ja’han Jones: I know everyone is wondering.

[2:30 PM]

Maxwell Strachan: Here’s another guy who has had one foot out the door for a half-decade.

[2:35 PM]

Maxwell Strachan: My friend who doesn’t spend all day on the internet just texted: “Isaiah a laker?” What a tranquil life he leads.

Ja’han Jones: Wow, what a blessing.

[2:40 PM]

Ja’han Jones:  I’ve missed a bunch of Cavs games lately. Do either of you brothers know whether Cedi Osman is developing well?

Maxwell Strachan: I literally have no idea. I just know LeBron jumped into his embrace last night.

Ja’han Jones: This is true. He’s earned the King’s blessing. He’s set.

[2:45 PM]

Maxwell Strachan: Fifteen minutes left, and it’s quiet. Too quiet.

Travis Waldron: Still time for Ernie to ruin everything.

Maxwell Strachan: Assuming nothing else happens, who is the biggest winner here? You can say it, it’s fine.

Ja’han Jones: Suns. Kept Jared Dudley happy by literally doing nothing.

Maxwell Strachan: Wrong. I believe the Lakers won. Going to just step outside my box and say that. Today, we not only obtained a first-round pick, but essentially signed Paul George and LeBron James.

Travis Waldron: Short-term, over the next few months, I think Cleveland did a thing that counts as a win, but that’s largely because they did an offseason that was a loss. But I think they’re better positioned to win the East today than they were yesterday. Long-term, the Lakers had a good day.

Maxwell Strachan: Thank you Travis. Thank you for speaking truth to power.

[2:50 PM]

Travis Waldron: I’m ... let’s call it curious ... about what Utah’s process was here.

Ja’han Jones: I was going to say Lakers, but I hesitated because I don’t know what ultimately happens with that space they’ve made. Cavs today, potentially Lakers down the road assuming they don’t make all-time bad mistakes in the offseason.

Maxwell Strachan: Sheldon Mac is not the last-minute explosion I was hoping for.

Travis Waldron: Also, Joe Johnson is a winner for getting people to keep paying him to play basketball. God bless Joseph Johnson.

Ja’han Jones: As Bomani Jones says, Joe is a legend at the bank. For real.

Maxwell Strachan: It’s official, and it’s weird. 

Travis Waldron: Joe Johnson is the eighth-highest paid NBA player of all time.
Joe Johnson has made $214 million.

Maxwell Strachan: Travis shut up for a second and let Ja’han digest this:

Ja’han Jones: LORD. 

Travis Waldron: Joe Johnson has made more money than Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade. Joe Johnson is not just a legend at the bank, he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer at the bank.

Maxwell Strachan: Travis, literally no one cares about Joe Johnson.

Travis Waldron: That’s their fault.

Maxwell Strachan: Not even Joe Johnson cares about Joe Johnson.

Travis Waldron: Joe Johnson is the American Dream.

[2:55 PM]

Maxwell Strachan: 

Travis Waldron: That’s so disrespectful.

Maxwell Strachan: I like the move for the Suns by the way.

Ja’han Jones: I mean, we were playing Isaiah Canaan at point, Mike James before we let him go (Lol), Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker (against his wishes). We literally just need someone who can get the ball across half-court and pass it to Devin.

Travis Waldron: Ah yes, Elfrid Payton, the difference between 24 wins and 26.

Maxwell Strachan: He’s good!

Travis Waldron: Yes, but see, the Suns are not. The Suns are a top-8 League Pass Alert squad, though.

Ja’han Jones: We’re in the Bagley/Bamba/Young sweepstakes. If we didn’t win a single game all season except those against the Lakers and Spurs, I’d be elated.

Maxwell Strachan: I feel like the NBA has one more trade in it. Three minutes.

Travis Waldron: Nah, Woj is already outside smoking.

Maxwell Strachan:

**Woj closes phone**

**throws it into a trashcan**

**lights trashcan on fire**

“Game, baby”

Travis Waldron: **Shams breaks DeAndre for Tristan**

Maxwell Strachan: The greatest rivalry in sports.

[3:00 PM]

Maxwell Strachan: It’s 3 p.m. Is that it? I think that’s it.

Travis Waldron: Verdicts? I still can’t believe the Cavs managed to flip their entire roster in a half-hour.

Maxwell Strachan: That was perhaps the greatest hour in NBA Twitter history.
We were the real winners today.

Travis Waldron: We were. I’m taking the rest of the day off to celebrate.

Ja’han Jones: Haha, this has been better than Emojigate.

Travis Waldron: That seems like a good place to end it.

Maxwell Strachan: Oh wait.

Now we’re done.