After weeks of rumors about Kyrie Irving wanting out of Cleveland, he finally got his wish on Tuesday night, as the Cavaliers dealt him to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick, and Ante Zizic. As soon as this trade went down, there were a lot of debates about which team got the better end of the deal, but who really won the trade?
Leading up to the 2016-17 season, the Boston Celtics were expected by a lot to be a team that couldn’t manage to win the division, and would likely have to fight for a low seed in the playoffs. On the court, the C’s shocked everyone by finishing with a regular season record of 53-29, as they went on to win the Atlantic division, and became the #1 seed within the Eastern Conference.
Come playoff time, Boston proved that regular season success can continue in the playoffs, as they defeated the Chicago Bulls in six games in round one, as well as the Washington Wizards in seven games in round two. Ultimately, the Celtics went on to lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games within the Eastern Conference Finals.
During the season, the team was led by all-star point guard Isaiah Thomas, who averaged 28.9 points, 5.9 assists, and 2.7 rebounds per game. Ever since coming to the team during the 2014-15 season at the trade deadline, Thomas has been arguably the most important player on the roster, and even became a beloved fan-favorite.
The Cleveland Cavaliers however were expected by everyone to make it back to the NBA Finals, and that’s just what they did. Though the team struggled at times, they finished with a record of 51-31 in the regular season. In the playoffs, the Cavs showed their true identity, as they steamrolled opponents, never losing a single game leading up to the Finals. Once they reached the final stage, the Cavaliers went on to lose to the Golden State Warriors in a mere five-game series.
During the season, even though the teams most important player happened to be LeBron James, point guard Kyrie Irving played a big role with the franchise as well. Ever since being drafted with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, Irving has made the quite the impact within the NBA, becoming one of the best point guards in the NBA.
During game two of the Eastern Conference Finals, Isaiah Thomas suffered a hip injury that sidelined him for the rest of the series. There were concerns within the front office of Boston that Thomas’ hip is not 100% healed yet, and will not be fully ready to start the regular season.
With the signing of free agent Gordon Hayward, as well as the promising players the team has in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Jae Crowder found himself as the odd man out in Boston, and became the most expendable of all the forwards that the Celtics contained. With Tatum and Brown, it’s likely that the Celtics will give them as many minutes as possible in order to help them develop.
Just a few weeks ago, a report came out that Kyrie Irving was unhappy in Cleveland, and even requested a trade. When news broke that Irving wanted out, it sent shockwaves through the entire NBA. In the past few seasons, Irving has always been forced to play second-fiddle to James. With the value Irving has, Cleveland’s hand was forced to take the best deal on the table.
Ever since trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2013, Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge has made multiple trades over the years that include stockpiling valuable draft picks. During the past few years, he has been very successful in terms of helping the Celtics go through a very quick rebuild process.
Leading up to the 2013-14 season, Ainge made a similar trade to the one he made this past week, as he sent Garnett and Pierce, along with Jason Terry, to the Brooklyn Nets for first round picks in 2014, 2016, and 2018. If you fast forward four years later, Garnett, Pierce and Terry are no longer with Brooklyn, and the Nets have been in the basement for a few seasons now. The Celtics on the other hand, outside of the one losing season, have consistently been viewed as a playoff team.
One thing that will determine who wins this trade is the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick. For Cleveland’s sake, they better hope that the Nets are once again one of the worst teams in the league this upcoming season.
On Boston’s side of things, they are getting a legit superstar in Kyrie Irving, which is something they have been missing since the powerhouse names such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. In Irving, the Celtics are getting a guy who is young enough to build a franchise around, and who has potential to become a leader.
For Cleveland, they are still getting a top-ten point guard in Isaiah Thomas. In case Lebron does decide to leave Cleveland after this season, Thomas may be argued as a player you can build a franchise around. The contract of Thomas expires the same year as LeBron, but he should be easier to re-sign. Aside from Thomas, Cleveland is getting a forward that can produce quality numbers off the bench in Jae Crowder. It should be mentioned that there is a load of potential in the Nets pick as well.
At the end of the day, this trade works out for both teams. Boston received a superstar that the team could build around in Kyrie Irving, and Cleveland got two strong players in Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, as well as a draft pick that could be a boom or a bust.
People may claim that the Celtics gave up too much for Irving, but when you want to acquire star talent, sometimes you have to give up too much to get him. In the short-term picture, Cleveland won this trade. In the long-term however, Boston won this deal.
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