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The Cleveland Cavaliers set the NBA cosmos on fire last week, pulling off a flurry of moves at the league's trade deadline, and completely overhauling their roster. Among the handful of veterans the Cavs shipped out were: Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, and Channing Frye. In return, they received a bunch of young, athletic pieces including Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and Rodney Hood. They also added the wily veteran guard George Hill to bolster their perimeter defense.
Some are now saying the once hapless Cavs are once again favorites in the East. They definitely played like it against Boston on Sunday.
The deadline also marked the official end of the Isaiah Thomas experiment in Cleveland, which in hindsight was an unquestionable failure. In all fairness, the Cavs probably threw him back into the lineup before he was fully healthy. Regardless, ever since Thomas came to town as the de facto replacement for Kyrie Irving, the vibe within the organization was just...off.
And as with anything that unfolds in the Cavs organization, LeBron James was at the center of it all.
The two players never really seemed to gel and according to Fox Sports' NBA reporter Chris Broussard, Isaiah has "no love" for James.
"I was talking to somebody yesterday close to Isaiah, and they said he has absolutely no love at all for LeBron. This is real," Broussard said Tuesday on Undisputed. "He felt like LeBron kind of talked down to him when he was there. When Isaiah first got there they actually were hanging out a little bit and it was cool, but it soured pretty quickly."
"I was talking to somebody yesterday close to Isaiah, and they said, 'Isaiah Thomas has absolutely no love at all for LeBron... He felt like LeBron talked down to him when he was there." — @Chris_Broussard pic.twitter.com/1KDmXwmQ4q— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) February 13, 2018
That there was friction between James and Thomas should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the Cavs. When people aren't playing well, LeBron tends to ostracize them (just ask Mike Dunleavy Jr.). So while this isn't a new phenomenon, it definitely felt heightened because of the expectations around Thomas.
Making this rift even more complex is the fact that the two vets seemed to be getting along well early in the season, as Broussard noted. LeBron's respect for Isaiah—after the trials he endured and success he had in his 2016-17 season with Boston—was widely known. But losing can put a strain on any relationship.
The Cavs and Lakers will play March 11—pitting the two former teammates against each other for the first time. What are the odds on pre-tip dap?