On Tuesday evening, reports were confirmed that Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving had been traded to the Boston Celtics. The NBA community was on full alert.
But who was heading the other way? Most players would dream of being traded to the team who have LeBron James…Who was next in line to the long list of stars to team up with ‘The King’?
It was none other than ‘The King of the Fourth’, Isaiah Thomas. He along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the rights to the Brooklyn Nets 2018 First Round Pick.
Boston Celtics president, Danny Ainge, made full use of his somewhat arsenal of assets, to land a renowned NBA superstar. Despite giving up a valuable Brooklyn pick, the Celtics still have the rights to the Lakers 2018 pick, should it land between number 2 and 5 in next years draft lottery.
Irving, 25, made his situation in Cleveland crystal clear earlier in the Summer, requesting a trade from the Cleveland organisation to further his career elsewhere. The Australian born Point Guard is already an NBA champion, been to the NBA Finals three times, an Olympic Champion with Team USA, and a four time All-Star. He is widely regarded as one of the very best guards in the league.
Reports have escalated over the summer that Lebron is set to leave Cleveland in 2018, potentially moving to the Western Conference for the first time in his career. With this in mind, Kyrie most likely saw the Cavaliers’ twilight years coming to an end. He helped bring a Championship to the city of Cleveland for the first time in over half a century. With Lebron potentially heading out, Irving feared being left behind.
From the Cavs perspective, landing Isaiah Thomas was a good move. The 5’9 Point Guard is coming off a career high season where he averaged over 28 points per game! He guided Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals where they were beaten by Cleveland themselves. With two years left on his contract, this isn’t necessarily a rental. Isaiah could be set to stay.
The 28 year old has every right to feel hard done by however. Having played a playoff game the night after losing his sister in a fatal car accident, Thomas sacrificed everything for Boston. He most likely is disappointed that his effort has been somewhat thrown back in his face.
Jae Crowder could be of much more value to the Cavaliers than first thought. His aggression and energy on the Defensive end is exactly what Cleveland are looking for, especially in their second unit. Cleveland have offence in abundance, it’s now time to acquire defenders who will stop the very best in the league. Crowder is a very good pickup.
Zizic is an unproven youngster, but could well be the start of a new young core for the Cavs, especially in 2018, when the Cavs now have access to the Brooklyn pick, which will very likely be in the top 10. As previously mentioned, with Lebron potentially heading West, Cleveland need assets to rebrand their roster. This is the ideal start.
As for Boston, Kyrie Irving joins an exciting group of players that look like they could be a serious threat in the East this season. Having already acquired Gordon Hayward in free agency, drafted Jayson Tatum with the 3rd pick in the draft, and traded away Avery Bradley for Marcus Morris, the new-look Celtics look incredibly strong on paper.
Kyrie brings more size and defense at the Point Guard position, as well as his unstoppable offensive skills. Tatum is a proven scorer at the Collegiate level, and will smoke second units with his energy. Hayward is a proven All-Star who guided the Utah Jazz to 50 wins last season, and the Second Round of the Playoffs.
The question on my mind is this: Which team will prove to be stronger? The answer lies in one man. Lebron James.
If Lebron wants to win badly enough, he will guide the Cavs to the number one seed and the Finals yet again. With the help of Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, and Kevin Love, as well as his loaded bench, they could easily be a 55 win team if he plays at his best.
What is clear though, is that if Lebron does jump ship and head West, the Celtics will be firmly placed to dominate the Eastern Conference for years.
It may take a few months for the chemistry to come together, but when it does, the Boston Celtics are going to be a very, very frightening team.