Analysing the Kyrie Irving- Isaiah Thomas trade
The latest in a string of offseason big-name trades sees the two Eastern Conference rivals exchange their elite point guards.
After a few minor hiccups, the Kyrie Irving - Isaiah Thomas trade has finally gone through. On 22 August 2017, details of the trade that saw the Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving head to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first round draft pick, became public. The move was a stunning development in the already spectacular NBA offseason that has seen stars like Chris Paul, Paul George and Jimmy Butler move.
However after Isaiah Thomas underwent his physical in Cleveland, the Cavaliers wanted to renegotiate the terms of the deal. The Celtics had clearly revealed the status of Isaiah's hip injury beforehand but the Cavaliers after Isaiah's physical felt that the injury was a bit more serious than they had first thought.
Most people saw it as a ploy by Cleveland to get even more out of this trade. After much deliberation, the two teams have finally arrived at a deal. The Celtics have agreed to give up the Miami Heat's 2020 second round draft pick in addition to the original deal.
What the Cleveland Cavaliers receive:
Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first round draft pick, Miami Heat's 2020 second round draft pick
What the Boston Celtics receive:
What it means for the Cavaliers
For the most part, the consensus is that Cavaliers General Manager, Koby Altman, has done an excellent job, given the circumstances. Cleveland had already been in a tough spot when it became public that Kyrie Irving had requested that he be traded, significantly reducing his value on the market.
In such circumstances to be able to go out and get an all-star point guard in exchange for an all-star point guard is no easy feat.
The Cavaliers have also managed to delicately walk the tightrope between being competitive this season and preparing for the future. LeBron James had been promised when he returned to Cleveland in 2014, that no amount of money or effort would be spared in order to ensure that Cleveland remain a perennial championship contender.
The fact that the Cavaliers have the highest payroll of any NBA team reflects their commitment to this promise. However, after LeBron's contract expires at the end of the season and he becomes a free agent, there is a great possibility that he'll leave Cleveland for greener pastures.
This move not only brings in an all-star point guard of Thomas' calibre, to ensure they remain competitive this season. But it also ensures that in case LeBron does decide to leave at the end of next season, they can afford to rebuild using the draft picks.
Jae Crowder is someone that perfectly fits the Cavaliers system. Crowder can play on the wings and open up space for perimeter shooters. He is also a very savvy defender and his numbers from last season (13.9 ppg) suggest that he'll be able to ease a bit of the burden on the offensive end as well. In Ante Zizic, the Cavaliers have a young, unproven talent with lots of potential.
What it means for the Celtics
The Boston Celtics also benefit from this deal greatly. Kyrie Irving is very young at 25 and has his prime years ahead of him. The fact that he has two years left on his contract is an added bonus.
Isaiah Thomas, at 5 ft 9 in, despite his scoring ability, was a great liability on the defensive end. The fact that Thomas would be eligible for a max contract at the end of next season was also of concern to the Celtics as they were uncertain whether they wanted Isaiah to be the player they built their franchise around for the future.
The Celtics have a significant number of future draft picks. Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge had seen talents like Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Chris Paul pass on by to other teams.
And he finally felt justified in using one of those picks to go in for a top-tier talent like Kyrie Irving.
So who won the trade?
The Cavaliers came out slightly ahead in this deal as they managed to get a great point guard in Isaiah Thomas despite the limited bargaining potential they had. Jae Crowder is a nice addition and Ante Zizic and the draft picks can be used to rebuild for the future in case LeBron leaves at the end of next season.
The Celtics managed to get themselves an elite finisher with proven championship experience in Kyrie Irving. The fact that he has two years left on his contract and has his prime years ahead of him ensure that the Celtics can build around him. For the time being, with Gordon Hayward and Al Horford on the roster, they are primed to meet the Cavalier in the East Finals.
All in all, this was a good deal for both teams as they managed to get good value additions for the upcoming season.