Kyrie Irving's trade analysis: What does it mean for Cavaliers?
Kyrie Irving has finally been traded to the Celtics. Did the Cavaliers get what they deserved for him?
Since Kyrie demanded a trade from the Cavaliers almost a month ago, executives and fans have been eagerly waiting for the day when he gets traded. It made no sense for the Cavs to keep him because of the chemistry issues that might arise in the locker room.
Furthermore, with the rumours swirling that LeBron might pack up and leave Cleveland come next summer, pundits said it would be wise to trade the young prodigy for some coveted 2018 first-round picks along with key rotational players. A few days ago, the Cavaliers did exactly that. They found the perfect trade partner in the Boston Celtics who were willing to part with their all-star guard Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first round pick.
So who won the trade? And how does this impact the powers of the NBA?
Even though Kyrie is a once in a generation talent, he didn't display much of the 'winner' in him during his time in Cleveland before LeBron arrived. If LeBron left again, Kyrie or Love wouldn't do much damage to the league even though they'd make the playoffs (in a weak conference might I add). Some people look at this trade and question the decision on sending Kyrie to arguably the second best team in the East but for what the Cavs got in return, there aren't many GMs willing to decline the trade. Let's look at what the Cavs got in this trade:
#1 Isaiah Thomas:
Last year, Isaiah had an MVP calibre season, finishing 5th in the voting. While leading the Celtics to the top of the East, he finished third in scoring averages for the season and showed tremendous mental strength through the playoffs after the tragic loss of his sister. While everyone looks at his defensive deficiencies due to his small frame (5'9"), they tend to forget Kyrie was no defensive anchor for the Cavs.
Both players are extremely talented offensive superstars capable of scoring from anywhere on the court and have their fair share of deficiencies on the defensive end. A player-for-player swap could've happened but Kyrie's age and slightly higher offensive skillset put that idea out of reach.
#2 Jae Crowder:
For much of the 2017 Finals, the Cavaliers struggled with Kevin Durant and often switched multiple guys to defend him. The aim was to avoid tiring LeBron on the defensive end so they can use his maximum output offensively and let him roam around for steals. Unfortunately for them, they didn't possess a guy capable of guarding Durant apart from LeBron and lacked the athleticism in their forwards.
Crowder brings a 6'7" athletic forward capable of guarding Durant to their bench. While he looks like a solid defensive star, his contributions on the offensive end cannot go unnoticed. He put up double-digit scoring last season and grabbed his share of rebounds. Furthermore, his half decent 3pt shot can force defences to lock him up, allowing the Cavs to play more comfortable isolation plays for LeBron or Love.
#3 Ante Zizic
While not much is known about Zizic, he has proven himself on the European stage waiting for NBA teams to recruit him. He can be a solid role player and chew off a few minutes from Tristan Thompson and help the Cavaliers guard the rim more efficiently rather than placing Frye at centre. His skillset looks promising and if he can develop some post-up moves or a mid-range jumper, he could potentially be a solid threat to much of the league.
#4 The Nets first-rounder
This was probably the one thing Cleveland wanted from the Celtics the most. It makes sense as well. With a top-heavy draft class coming next summer, it makes sense for the Cavaliers to trade for this piece. The Nets didn't improve dramatically over summer, so this pick could end up in the top 5 and give the Cavaliers an option between Marvin Bagley or Michael Porter Jr. If LeBron actually decides to leave the Cave next summer, they can trade a couple of players for more draft picks and start rebuilding almost immediately, helping them shape the organisation for the long term.
#5 Heat's 2020 second-rounder
Well, this pick was added to 'sweeten' the deal. It is definitely an upgrade for a Cavaliers organization void of picks till 2021 prior to this trade and can hope to pick up someone along the line of Draymond Green in 2020. Till then, the above mentioned four trade pieces are the primary package.
Overall, the trade pieces have helped the Cavaliers plan both short-term and long-term. Thomas and Crowder can make an immediate impact and help LeBron through the playoffs. The first round pick can either help improve the roster next year or help them start their rebuild amidst LeBron's departure. Whatever the case may be, this trade covers it all.