Making Sense of the Kyrie to Boston Deal
Back in June, Kyrie Irving requested to be traded away from the Cleveland Cavaliers. This was incredibly shocking. Kyrie and the Cavaliers had just made the finals for the third straight year, so many people were confused as to why Kyrie would want to leave a team like that. The Cavaliers were head and shoulders better than any other team in the Eastern Conference, and Kyrie Irving was a big part of that.
Kyrie Irving was the Rookie of the Year during the 2011-2012 season, has been an All-Star 4 times, and won the NBA Championship in 2016. Irving hit one of biggest shots in NBA finals history in game 7 versus the Warriors during last year’s NBA finals. He is arguably the league’s best finisher around the rim, and has hit countless big shots during his career.
Irving has been in the league for 6 years, and for the first three, he was not playing with LeBron James. During those first three years, the Cavaliers went 78-152. They got the first overall pick in the draft for two of those three years. Once LeBron returned to the team in 2014-2015 season, he helped Irving blossom into the player he is today, but this put Irving in LeBron’s shadow. LeBron James casts a large shadow, and is given preferential treatment in the NBA. When the team wins, it is because of LeBron James, he gets all the credit, but when the team loses, it is because LeBron doesn’t have enough help.
This obviously irked Kyrie Irving, as I’m sure it would irk most players. Kyrie went to Dan Gilbert, the team’s owner, and requested a trade. He made the request because he felt that he now has the ability to be the man and lead his own team. A lot of people, including me, have doubts about Kyrie’s ability to lead a team and be the man. He was the man on the Cavaliers for three years, and the team was terrible.
Now, Kyrie put the Cavaliers in quite a predicament, because they did not have to trade him. The team could have ignored his request, and made him sulk through another season, and wait and see if LeBron will leave, which would determine if the Cavalier’s would become Kyrie’s team. Kyrie openly trolled LeBron on social media, and did he best to burn any bridges he could in order to drive the team towards trading him instead of keeping him. The team had options on where they could trade him, but the problem was, it is unlikely that the return they would turn into a player who is better than Kyrie Irving.
Teams like the Spurs, Heat, Knicks, and the Bucks were rumored to be very interested, but could not offer anything that would make the deal worth it for the Cavaliers. Ultimately, he was traded yesterday to the Celtics. The Cavaliers got a large haul for him, which included Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ first round pick in the 2018 Draft.
The return was probably the best they could have gotten for Irving, and it sets them up for life after LeBron, because they will likely have a lottery pick in the next NBA Draft, due to the fact that Brooklyn is terrible, and will probably still be terrible next year. However, as good of a haul as this is, it is not enough to put them past the Golden State Warriors as favorites to win the NBA Finals. Isaiah Thomas is a defensive liability because he is 5’9”, so it hard to imagine him making an impact versus the Warriors in the NBA Finals. There are also concerns surrounding Isaiah Thomas’ injury history, specifically with his hips. The Celtics were concerned about his hips, which was a driving factor in trading him. Jae Crowder is a solid defensive player, but the problem with Crowder is that he has a career .346 3-point percentage, and LeBron tends to turn players into spot up shooters on offense.
It can be argued that this was a win-win for both teams. The Cavaliers got rid of Kyrie, and got a big haul in return, which should make up for production you lose when you lose Kyrie. They also improved defensively with the addition of Jae Crowder. The Celtics added a proven scorer with playoff experience in Kyrie Irving to pair with the addition of Gordon Hayward, and they managed to also hold onto the 2018 Lakers draft pick.
The real winners of this deal are the Golden State Warriors. Their primary adversary got weaker, and they lost a big time scorer and finisher in Kyrie Irving. The Warriors have just gotten better this offseason, adding more three-point shooters, along with a rock solid defensive player in Jordan Bell. Ultimately, the Cavaliers still do not have enough pieces to put them past Golden State, and the Warriors should repeat as NBA Champions in 2018.