Written By: Tristan Wentworth
The Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and Brooklyn’s 2018 first round pick.
This blockbuster trade was made quickly on Tuesday evening as talks escalated between the Celtics and Cavs. Kyrie Irving made it clear about a month ago that he no longer wanted to play with Lebron, and the Cavs have been receiving generous packages from a myriad of teams including Phoenix and New York. However, Boston had the most to give with their stockpile of young assets and future draft picks.
Christopher Evans/Boston Herald
After Isaiah Thomas went down with a hip injury in last year’s postseason run, the Celtics were forced to make up 29 points a game and play without their best scorer. IT4 is 28 and although he is a prolific guard, we think Kyrie being the younger, taller, and more explosive player offers an upgrade at the point guard spot as he still has room to grow. Also, Thomas will be playing in a contract year, and may have gone elsewhere if Boston didn’t pay him max next summer.
Last year Kyrie averaged 25 points, and 6 assists on 47% from the field and 40% from 3, solidifying himself as an elite shooter and scorer. Kyrie is still a magician with the ball in his hands, and a one-man wrecking crew offensively. Now that he is the debatably best player on his team, the question becomes: can Kyrie make the leap as a playmaker, passer, and defender?
Crowder, after making it clear he wasn’t happy with Celtics fans for cheering on Gordon Hayward, has been shopped around for months now.
For Boston, they made a move for the present and future, as they have now cleared playing time for impressive second year player Jaylen Brown, and polished rookie Jayson Taytum. Coach Stevens expects Brown to build on his foundation last year, and make the jump as an elite defender in 2017-18. Taytum had an impressive Summer League, and has the size and touch to be a premier scorer in the future.
Boston’s roster now looks great on paper, but we will have to wait and see how the Hayward, Irving, Horford nucleus works.
Cleveland cashed in for significant value from Irving.
Isaiah Thomas is an MVP-caliber scorer, playmaker, and shooter, who led the league in 4th quarter points last year with over 10. Although IT may see a drop in his assists, perhaps his efficiency will rise playing next to Lebron and he may improve on his 38% from 3.
Crowder had a fantastic year for the C’s in 2016-17 averaging 14 points on 40% from 3, and playing some stellar defense. He is still just 27, and offers immense value as a wing defender who can shoot from range, a perfect compliment next to LBJ. He is on a fantastic contract getting paid 7-7.5 million a year for the next 3 years which is a bargain considering the recent cap spike.
Ante Zizic, the 23rd pick in the draft, could be a nice piece as he is a skilled 7-footer with good footwork and a solid motor for a 20-year-old.
The 2018 first round pick from Brooklyn is extremely valuable, and seems to be the leveling piece in the deal. With exciting prospects like Marvin Bagley, and Michael Porter in the draft, the Cavs gave themselves a chance to build for the future in case of a Lebron/Isaiah departure next year. We expect Brooklyn to be bad, and the pick could be top 5.
Losing Irving, one of the most promising young players in the league hurts, but with the ability to contend now and improve in the future, newly appointed GM Koby Altman pulled off a pretty damn-good trade.
What it means for the rest of the league
Not a whole lot.
The Cavs and Celtics figured to be the 1-2 seeds next year, and that remains the same after the trade.
All this means is that the rest of the league missed out on a franchise player in Kyrie. For Phoenix, Josh Jackson better develop, because he was rumored to be the missing piece in a Boston-Cleveland deal.