About a month ago, Irving met with the the Cavs and requested a trade. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said, “Irving has said that he wants to play in a situation where he can be more of a focal point and that he no longer wants to play alongside LeBron James.”
On Tuesday, the Cavs traded Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in return for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first round pick. Even though the Celtics received the biggest piece in the trade, the Cavs got a bigger package.
The Cavs’ Side of this Trade:
The Cavs somewhat found a replacement for Irving in Isaiah Thomas, who is coming off a career-high year. He averaged 28.9 points, 5.9 assists, and hit 3.2 threes per game. With only having Derrick Rose, José Calderón, and Kay Felder as their point guards, the Cavs needed to get a point guard that can run the offense with LeBron, which they did.
In the deal, the Cavs also received Jae Crowder, who can be conceived as one of the most underrated wing players in the league. He can take the pressure off James by guarding other top guards and forwards, especially against the Warriors’ Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. He can also be a threat on offense from beyond the arc, shooting 39.8%. With James playing the small forward position, Crowder’s position versatility will be needed, as he can play both the wing and power forward slot.
For the Cavs, there is a short-term and long-term part of this trade. Bringing Thomas in with only one year left in his contract, the Cavs still have a chance to contend for another title with having the best player on their team. Also, when LeBron leaves next year (notice I did not say if), they can enter rebuilding mode without having to pay Thomas’ contract. On the other hand, depending how bad the Nets do, the Cavs can possibly draft one of the best players from the 2018 Draft Class without tanking. Even though Ante Zizic has yet to play a game in the NBA, he showed some talent when playing overseas, and has plenty of years to grow being only 20.
The Celtics’ Side of this Trade:
According to Jeff Goodman from ESPN, the Celtics had concerns if Thomas’ hip injury from the Conference Finals would affect him, or delay his start to the season. On the other hand, Irving rumored to be playing in the NBA Finals with a knee injury, but he should definitely be ready to go during training camp.
If Irving remains healthy through the whole season, he has a chance to lead his new squad to challenge his old squad in the weakened East. We finally get to see if Irving has what it takes to be a leader of a team, especially for one that is seeking to make the Finals.
He possibly has one of the best handles in the league, and could increase his scoring with more touches. Last season, he scored a career-high 25.2 ppg, while shooting 47.3% from the field. Although Thomas was nicknamed “King of the 4th Quarter” for his clutch shooting in the forth quarter, Irving has hit shots on the biggest stages with tons of pressure. He made 2 Finals appearances (not counting the one game he played in 2015), which can be a big help for the young, inexperienced Celtics squad.
It seems pretty clear that the Cavs will advance from the East and have a chance at a title in 2018.
On the other hand, the Celtics have a bright future ahead of themselves, and will soon be atop of the Eastern Conference after the Cavs collapse.
Please leave your thoughts below in the comments on who you think won the trade!