Going into the 2018 trade deadline, the Cleveland Cavaliers were comfortably above .500, but had recently dropped a number of high-profile games and owned a negative point differential for the season.
Despite having made The Finals the year before, the Cavs were widely seen as underachieving, and the veteran core around LeBron James was beginning to look insufficient. So, with the future looking increasingly uncertain, the Cavs revamped the entire roster around James in the hopes of injecting some life (and a combination of youth and experience) into a locker room that badly needed a deck reshuffling.
Of course, this describes the Cavaliers' trade deadline, with a string of moves that ultimately shipped out six players (Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert, Isaiah Thomas, and Dwyane Wade) while receiving four in return (Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance Jr.).
The upheaval also describes the deadline the Cavs went through a decade earlier when they cleaned house with one dramatic three-team deal that - again - saw six players exit and four new ones jump on board.
Now, the stakes weren't quite as high in 2007-08 as they are this year. Though Cleveland had gotten to The Finals in 2006-07, it was an ahead-of-schedule run: LeBron was in just his fourth season and required a famously Herculean effort in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the then-dominant Detroit Pistons to drag his squad there.
And while the then-30-24 Cavs didn't appear on pace to make a return run - especially in the first year of Boston's Big Three era - the team's management had less urgency to find the right mix around LeBron, as he'd signed an extension in 2006 and wouldn't be a free agent for another two seasons.
Nonetheless, with the team faltering somewhat in the days going into the deadline - having lost four of their last seven, all to playoff-bound West teams - and a couple of the team's core vets underperforming, then-GM Danny Ferry decided to be proactive.
He cut the cord with the team's two non-LeBron leaders in minutes played the season before - Larry Hughes, a volume-shooting combo guard whose efficiency had cratered since arriving in Cleveland in the 2005 offseason, and Drew Gooden, an inconsistent power forward in the midst of the worst shooting season of his career - sending both to the Chicago Bulls. He also traded Shannon Brown, Cedric Simmons, Donyell Marshall and Ira Newble, the last two being routed to the Seattle Supersonics.
In return, the team received a pair of former All-Stars in defensive-minded center Ben Wallace and rifleman wing Wally Szczerbiak, and a former No. 1 overall pick-turned-journeyman in jump-shooting big Joe Smith. They also got a little younger in the backcourt with fourth-year combo guard Delonte West, an intriguing but frustrating former college star, who had been floundering on the rebuilding Sonics.
“I didn't think we were good enough to win the championship," Ferry offered following the trade. "I thought we had a very good team. But I do believe if we have a chance to make ourselves better, we should try."
The deal came with no shortage of pressure from The King himself. He had openly wished for Jason Kidd, who was on the trade block for the New Jersey Nets, and was publicly disappointed when he instead landed with the Dallas Mavericks. (After dunking on Dirk Nowitzki at the end of the All-Star Game, he joked that it was an act of vengeance, "because he stole my point guard.")
He insisted the Cavs should reshape the roster - and they did, providing him with the most stable roster of veterans in his NBA career at the time.
However, as with the Cavs' moves this year, it wasn't quite an all-in move. Ferry boasted after the deal that he was able to pull it off without sacrificing much in the way of future draft considerations, but the return reflected the lack of investment.
While around the same deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers ended up with Pau Gasol, the Phoenix Suns ended up with Shaquille O'Neal, and the Mavs with Kidd - all of whom were eventually named All-Stars with their new squads. The Cavs received a couple of players whose All-Star days were firmly in the rearview, and whose presence on their former squads was enough of a burden that Ferry was able to land them without giving up any valuable assets.
In 2018, the Cavs went more for youth - though George Hill may be in a similar over-the-hill class to the Big Ben and Wally World of a decade ago - but also had to mostly settle for players whose former teams had already cast them aside, rather than going for broke on a Blake Griffin-type.
The deal a decade ago didn't exactly fortify the 2008 Cavs for their playoff run - the squad limped to a 15-13 end of the season, but still finished fourth in an underwhelming East. But in the playoffs, the squad came to life, dispatching the Washington Wizards in six before pushing the top-seeded Celtics to a hard-fought seven games. West, in particular, emerged as one of LeBron's most reliable running mates, hitting the game-winning triple in the pivotal Game 4 vs. Washington, and twice scoring over 20 against Boston.
Really, though, the Cavs nearly dispatched the eventual 2008 champs because in the playoffs, LeBron was LeBron. West shot 40 percent for the postseason, sharpshooting Szczerbiak hit less than a third of his threes, and Wallace averaged about three points a game. But, playing with LeBron tends to overshadow everything else, and his 28-8-8 line nearly powered Cleveland to a finals return. Even in the Cavs' game seven loss to Boston, he poured in 45 points, just barely getting edged out by Paul Pierce and P.J. Brown.
Will it happen again in 2018? It's certainly possible, though we'll see if Koby Altman's decision to mostly target younger players - three out of LeBron's four new teammates are 25 - sends these Cavs on a slightly different, perhaps future-friendly trajectory.
Once again, there's a behemoth of a Celtics team for Cleveland to get through in the East, but LeBron is still LeBron, and with the Cavs' increasingly toxic locker room no longer a distraction, he might not need much more for an eighth straight finals appearance. Dan Gilbert & Co. better hope so, because time is running out to further improve roster chemistry.
If LeBron gets bounced in the second round this postseason, the Cavs may find themselves rebuilding around a Hood-Clarkson-Nance core next season.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)