Kyrie Irving is a Celtic at long last after the Cavs and Celtics agreed on adding Boston’s 2020 second-round pick to the original deal that included Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick in next year’s draft.
Eight days after the deal was initially announced, Irving and Thomas join a number of the league’s biggest names have changed teams this off-season including Gordon Hayward, Chris Paul and Paul George but it’s this trade that takes the cake.
On the surface, it looks like a reasonably even trade and even with Thomas’ injury concerns, he has assured the basketball world that he’ll be the same player he was when he returns.
It’s a win-now trade for Cleveland (and it always had to be) while giving them a glimmer of hope in the future while Boston are confident in the pairing of Hayward and Irving as well as signing Irving long term when his current deal expires.
Brooklyn’s pick in next year’s draft is almost certain to fall in the top 10 with a good chance of moving up even higher and while Cleveland were unable to land Jason Tatum in the deal, it’s here where they may’ve gotten the W in this trade.
The number three pick out of Duke in this year’s draft raised many eyebrows in his Utah Summer League performances, averaging 18.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals. Understandably, it’s easy to see why the Cavs wanted him.
But in the ‘real talk’ of this trade, it was a bluff.
Boston were never (ever) parting with Tatum and they made that known from the start. Cleveland pushed, throwing an extra chip on the table to see if Boston would show the slightest of interest in playing that hand, but nothing came of it.
Thomas was one player that was always going to be involved in this deal. Two All-Star point guards on the one roster? Only Houston can pull that off.
Brooklyn’s pick was another asset of Boston’s that, while they may not have wanted it to, was going to find its way to Cleveland.
Jae Crowder is the piece in that trade that has the potential to decide the winner and as it stands at the minute, it’s leaning in the direction of the wine and gold.
A 34% career 3-point shooter, that number spiked spectacularly last season, nailing 157 long balls in the regular season at a shade under 40%. While he has been a starter over the last two seasons and pulled in just under six rebounds a game over that time, he’ll likely be relegated back to the bench this season, but that’s not an entirely bad thing.
Behind a line up of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson in the front court, Crowder’s elite perimeter defence will be a major factor in ensuring Cleveland remain a strong contender for the East’s #1 seed this season.
Last season, opponents shot just 29% from behind the arc with Crowder as their primary defender and just over 30% from greater than 15 feet.
The Marquette forward give the Cavs more versatility in their line ups when Love plays at the five, allowing for a James and Crowder front court. A line up that not only will be capable of stifling opposing offences but also creating points on the other end, with all five players on the court able to knock down shots from deep along with being capable facilitators.
Crowder’s career 79% free throw shooting is also a minor yet key detail, allowing Tyronn Lue to play him down the stretch of key games.
As already mentioned, with LeBron’s impending free agency next season, this deal had to be a win now move for the Cavs and it is. It has the option of extending Thomas’ contract as well at the end of the season and while that may seem unlikely at the moment, the option is there.
Irving and Hayward will take time to gel, just like any high-profile pairing that join forces on the one team.
This move ensures the Cavs remain the best team in the conference and with Dywane Wade’s arrival also on the horizon and some point in the 2017/18 season, the Cavs have made sure that LeBron’s unprecedented consecutive finals streak is alive and well.