It has finally happened.
After weeks of drama and speculation on where Kyrie Irving was going to be traded to, or if he was going to be traded at all, we finally have our conclusion to the story of the summer.
Also, here is a Mini Pod breaking down the trade and what this means for both sides.
Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics finally pulled the trigger and traded their assets for a top tier NBA star. The Celtics acquired Kyrie Irving and sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the unprotected 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
For the short and long term, this looks like a rare win-win for both teams. Let’s break it down.
Cleveland Is Still The Team To Beat In The East
The Cavaliers still have the best player in the world in LeBron James on their team and should still be the favorites to head to their fourth straight Finals. In a vacuum, they added a player who scored 28.9 points last season in Thomas and in addition to an above average wing defender in Crowder to a championship caliber team.
Watch out for LeBron pulling a Russell Westbrook type season and playing like a mindless animal. It’s not his style to play like Westbrook did last year, as he is tuned to always make the right basketball play, but this could be a new LeBron. It would be fun to see, in year 15 of his career, LeBron finally take the gloves off and attack the hoop every single change he gets. Can we see Finals LeBron for an entire season?
LeBron was always the true alpha on this team, but now he doesn’t have anyone to cater to. Isaiah Thomas will learn real quick that he will not be the same role he had in Boston. He goes from being a key part of a championship-inspiring team that moves the ball around to the sidekick to the LeBron show. Not saying that LeBron isn’t going to get him involved and rely on him, because he will, but he doesn’t have to worry about carrying the team every night like he did in Boston.
Jae Crowder is now another capable body to throw at the Warriors and gives the Cavs a much needed additional defensive presence. He will play an important role for the Cavs quest for their second championship next season.
Kudos to new Cavs GM Koby Altman for prying the unprotected 2018 Nets pick from Danny Ainge. The Celtics probably could have gotten better value for that, but more on that later. The Nets shouldn’t be the worst team in the league next year like they were this year. You have to think the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns, and maybe even the Los Angeles Lakers could be worse. With the additions of D’Angelo Russell, DeMare Carroll, and Alan Crabbe, the Nets front office is showing that they aren’t phoning it next season. With nothing to gain from losing, it’s nice to see that they made moves to improve.
With the acquisition of this unprotected pick, it will almost certainly be a top 5-6 pick, with odds are it even being better. The 2018 draft class is pretty deep, especially near the top of the lottery. The elephant of the room is of course the constant rumors that LeBron is once again skipping town, this pick is insurance that they can get a head start on another rebuilding process. If LeBron stays, this top prospect will be walking into a championship level team as a 19 year-old with a grizzled LeBron James who is chasing championships.
NBA source said today: "This will be LeBron's final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair."
— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) August 16, 2017
Boston Get Their Star
Brad Stevens will roll out a 2018 starting lineup, which happens of course to tip off in Cleveland in the season opener, of Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum/Jalen Brown, and Al Horford. All of these players are highly talented and were drafted high in the lottery. The offseason additions of Kyrie and Gordon give them two legitimate All-Stars in their prime to lead this team back to the Finals.
Quick ages of the Celtics six best players
Kyrie Irving: 25
Gordon Hayward: 27 (Kyrie and Gordon ironically have the same birthday, March 23rd)
Al Horford: 31
Marcus Smart: 23
Jaylen Brown: 20
Jayson Tatum: 19
They will be getting a motivated Kyrie who will be proving to the world that he can be the A card, the alpha, and the Batman of a championship team. Most players would choose to play with LeBron, not against him. Boston isn’t New York or Miami, it doesn’t have the pedigree of a Popovich (even though Stevens is right under him in terms of top NBA coaches) or the youth and excitement of Minnesota, but it’s a damn good basketball situation to be in.
One concern with Kyrie in Boston that for the most part, he is seen as a freestyle player. Brad Stevens runs a very systematic offense with back cuts and high screens. If Isaiah Thomas can score nearly 30 in this system, you have to think a player like Kyrie, if he buys in (you have to think he absolutely will), will find similar or even more success.
Did Boston Misplay Their Hand?
Kyrie Irving has been a top player in this league with LeBron on his side. Fans hope he can prove that now semi on his own in Boston, but that has to proven before claiming that. I’m not sure if Cleveland does this trade if the unprotected 2018 Nets pick isn’t included.
With hindsight now 20/20, did Danny Ainge get the best value for this pick? The three players he probably could have gotten with that pick are DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, or Jimmy Butler.
Cousins, Butler, and PG we're all moved at steep discounts. Boston passed. Then they paid a premium for Kyrie, when CLE had no leverage.
— Chris Towers (@CTowersCBS) August 22, 2017
He could have packaged a deal that was centered around the 2018 Nets pick for one of these players and kept Isaiah Thomas at the same time. He would have probably had to trade Jae Crowder, which you do in a heart beat for any of those three players.
Paul George was shockingly traded for only Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. With George headed for free agency, the Pacers had little leverage, but it was still low value for the All-Star. Boogie Cousins was traded for a package that was centered around Buddy Hield and the 2017 Hornets first round pick (turned out to be the 10th overall pick). Can the Celtics get Boogie for the 2018 pick and some more? Probably. Would they want him? It looks like they didn’t.
The one trade that could have been made that has the biggest argument is one that would have made Jimmy Butler a Celtic. The Bulls were actively shopping him and ultimately decided on trading him to the Timberwolves for the 7th overall pick (Lauri Markkanen), the 16th pick (Justin Patton), Kris Dunn, and Zach LaVine. That is a pretty big package, but would the Bulls be more intrigued at that Nets pick?
A trade for Boogie or Butler may not happen without the 2017 Nets pick. When Boogie was traded, the Nets were a lock for a top pick in the draft, but it was not known where they would pick. Fast forward to June, and the Celtics trade that now #1 pick down to #3 with the 76ers, and draft Jayson Tatum.
Would you rather have Isaiah Thomas and Jimmy Butler or Kyrie Irving?
Two quick observations:
- If Kyrie makes his trade demand before the draft, do the Celtics trade the #1 (or #3 depending on timing) pick for Kyrie? Would the Cavs get IT, Crowder, and Tatum for this season instead of having to wait for the 2018 draft? The 2017 Nets pick is most likely going to be better than the 2018 pick.
- The selection of Jayson Tatum and his performance in the Summer League made Jae Crowder the most expandable Celtics. Danny Ainge made this decision because he thinks Kyrie is a better player than Isaiah Thomas and paid the price in the 2018 pick for it. I think you made that trade every time.
Can We Stop The Criticism Of Super Teams For One Minute
“All the players team up together the NBA isn’t fun and predictable.”
**Kyrie Irving demands a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers after making three straight Finals because he wants to win on his own.**
“Kyrie is an idiot for leaving LeBron.”
Can’t have it both ways people.
Let The Games Begin
Very first game of the 2017-18 NBA season…
Cavs vs. Celtics
Tuesday October 17th, 8pm in Cleveland
— SportsBlogNewYork (@SportBlogNYC) August 22, 2017
Kyrie is now #1 on LeBron’s list.
LeBron is Arya and Kyrie is Cersei.
LeBron will try to have his on national TV during the first game of the NBA season.
Can we fast forward to the Eastern Conference Finals?