Weeks of speculation gave way to activity on Thursday, as the Los Angeles Lakers traded Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Channing Frye, Isaiah Thomas and a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Clarkson had been with the Lakers since the 2014 season, tying with Julius Randle for the longest-tenured player in the organization. Nance was taken by L.A. in the the first round of the 2015 Draft.
“He brought a lot of highlights, did all the little things and really energized on both sides of the floor,” Randle said of Nance. “Same with JC, that’s like my brother. We came in together. It sucks to have those guys leave, but they’re in a great spot and competing for a championship, so that’s amazing.”
While it was natural for Randle to have developed a connection with Clarkson and Nance over their multiple years playing together, rookie Kyle Kuzma shared similar bonds with the pair. “That was really unfortunate, for me especially,” Kuzma said.
“I was real close with Larry and JC. Those two guys I kind of clicked with right away. We all miss them, for sure, but at the end of the day it’s a business.”
For Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, it was a reminder of a reality that comes with playing in the NBA. “It was tough and we know there’s another side to this basketball thing, it’s the business of basketball,” Ingram said.
“The good thing about it, like I said, we are friends away from basketball so we will always have a connection.”
Added Hart: “It’s something that no matter how long you’re in this league, it’s always going to be a tough day because it’s so chaotic. Obviously, we love Larry and JC, and we wish them the best.
“At the end of the day, the organization did what they felt was best for us. It’s tough, but it’s a business. We had to go out there and be professional about everything and control our reaction to it.”
Lakers head coach Luke Walton said it was “tough” to see Clarkson and Nance traded, citing their importance to the team’s success this season and dedication in years prior. “We’re going to miss them but they’re going to a good situation,” Walton continued.
Although the Lakers were saddened to lose players they’d grown close to, Ingram, Kuzma and Randle spoke fondly about Frye and Thomas and what they’ll bring to the team.