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As of right now in a drastic turn of events, Kyrie Irving is a Boston Celtic and Isaiah Thomas is now LeBron’s teammate. There have been reports saying that Cleveland has concerns about IT’s hip which might end up actually costing Boston Kyrie Irving…but for now we will just assume the trade goes through.
1. Inter-conference 1 & 2 seeds never trade with each other.
I think before this trade, Shaq going to Miami was previously the most shocking trade of the 21st century, but the fact that these two teams are rivals now was the most shocking part of this blockbuster trade. There were exactly zero teams in the league that could have realistically offered as much as Boston could have and Cleveland knew it. Despite the two teams basically being conference rivals and the one & two seeds in the East, they set aside their differences and were able to make a deal anyway. The last time two teams that previously met in a conference finals made a blockbuster trade was when Seattle traded Dennis Johnson for Phoenix’s Paul Westphal in 1980! It’s an extremely rare occurrence and for good reason…why would a team that made it to the Finals in the previous year trade away a piece that helped them get there? It just doesn’t make any sense which is why the last time it happened Pac Man hadn’t even been invented yet.
2. The team trading away the superstar actually got a fair return in the deal
We see it time and time again, if you’re the team trading away the superstar you usually only get about 75 cents on the dollar for that player. There have been too many instances of this: Jimmy Butler was traded for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and 7th overall pick, Kevin Garnett was traded for Al Jefferson and a bunch of bench guys & future picks, Paul George was traded for Oladipo and last year’s 11th overall pick (more like 55 cents on the dollar for Indy) This was a very rare case where Cleveland surprisingly got maybe even $1.10 on the dollar for Kyrie, Boston got fleeced in this deal. Kyrie is an incredible talent and still just 25 years old, but Isaiah Thomas had a better season than Irving last year, statistically, IT4 had one of the most efficient seasons on offense in NBA history. Cleveland got an All-NBA point guard, a great defender in Jae Crowder, promising big man Ante Zizic, and the cherry on top of the sundae they got A NETS PICK! The only reason this trade went down was that Isaiah Thomas is 29 years old, he’s in the last year of his contract and will demand a max deal next summer. Boston is already tied up with money to Horford & Hayward and Boston is trying to build towards the future because they know they can’t beat Golden State or Cleveland right now so having IT4 as their future point guard didn’t make a lot of sense (adding the fact that smaller players don’t tend to age well either) Cleveland built to help them compete next year and in the future if (or rather when) LeBron leaves next summer, overall great move by the Cavs.
3. Danny Ainge actually pulled the trigger and made a trade
The turnaround Danny Ainge was able to pull off might go down as the most successful rebuild in sports history. The Celtics were a dominant force in the East from ’08 to ’12 and then decided to ship aging Garnett & Pierce to Brooklyn in what might be considered the worst trade in NBA history when we look back on it in 10 years. Ainge not only rebuilt this team to compete in 2016 but also he has the assets and players to compete in 2020 and beyond. This fact says it all: Last year the Celtics were the first team(and probably will be the last) to have the best record in their respective conference and also have the 1st overall pick. I understand that nobody is beating Golden State in the next two years, but at the same time in it’s unlikely that Jaylen Brown, Zizic, and Jayson Tatum bring them a championship in the future either. The big knock on Danny Ainge is that he holds onto his assets too long, draft picks always lose value the second after they shake Adam Silver’s hand…look at guys like Kris Dunn, Jahlil Okafor, Brandon Ingram, Josh Jackson (bunch of concerns pop up right after he is picked) even Jaylen Brown. If someone asked me if I would rather have Jaylen Brown or next year’s 3rd overall pick (where he was taken) I would much rather have the 3rd pick. GMs view the term ‘1st round pick’ much higher than what the pick is actually worth…very few first rounders turn into franchise changing players that GMs expect them to. Ainge has held onto these assets so long that their trade value has really diminished. Considering the offer the Bulls got for Butler, you could have had Jimmy Butler for next year’s Sixers Pick, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier…no way any of those guys turn into Jimmy Freaking Butler (and still had Tatum and a Net’s pick for the future) I did not expect a Kyrie Irving trade to be the first move Ainge made with all of the assets at his disposal.
4. This trade shows that there is no loyalty in sports anymore
What really made the water murky for Boston and made this such a hard decision for Danny was IT’s expiring contract. IT is going to demand a $30+ million contract next year and that would make it very hard to build a super team with that contract on the books. This trade is almost the exact opposite of what Kevin Durant did to OKC last year. Besides Curry or LeBron, I think the fans in Boston loved and revered IT more than any team’s fans in the NBA. After the season he had and the fact that he played the playoffs after the tragic passing of his sister, he became a local hero in Boston. He is beloved by young kids and is one of the most popular players in the league because he can dominate other great athletes and giants at the pedestrian size of 5’9″ This was probably the second most shocking aspect of the trade because trading away an incredibly popular fan favorite like that is always tough for a GM. Isaiah had always been overlooked (even when he was good with Sacramento) by teams because of his size and once it looks like he finally found a home in Boston where the fans love him, they’re winning games, and he made an All-NBA team…2 months later they trade him away because hey it’s just business. I really can’t believe Boston traded him away after the season he just had.