This was a trade that many NBA fans did not see coming. Kyrie Irving, who originally did not list the Celtics as one of his preferred destinations, is now a Boston Celtic. Not only that, but Isaiah Thomas, the heart and soul of the Celtics and the city of Boston, is now all of a sudden a Cleveland Cavalier. In addition to receiving Thomas, the Cavs will also receive Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick. There is a lot of debating going on in the NBA world as to who won this trade. If you ask me, I will say that while neither team lost this trade by any means, Cleveland is slightly more beneficial from this trade. There are positives and negatives for both teams. First, I will discuss the negatives.
Negatives: Boston Celtics
If you ask every Celtics fan on the planet who their favorite player on the Celtics is (well, was), 95 percent of them would say Isaiah Thomas. He not only brought basketball back to Boston after a couple years of struggling due to the rebuild, but he inspired so many fans and even other NBA players by the way that he played his heart out in the 2017 Playoffs despite the tragic loss of his sister, Chyna Thomas. The day after her death, the Celtics and Bulls were set to play game one. Despite being overcome by emotion during the pregame, Thomas did not let that stop him. He played the game, and dropped 33 points. The heart and courage that Thomas played with day-in and day-out will be something that we Celtics fans will cherish forever.
2. Losing even more players from last season’s team.
The Celtics’ starting lineup this past season was Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, and Al Horford. All of these players are now gone except for Horford. In addition to losing 4 starters, Boston also lost Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller, Gerald Green, Jonas Jerebko, Jordan Mickey, and James Young. Next season will be nearly a complete roster turnover that Brad Stevens will have to figure out how to put together. Although the roster will have a lot of new faces, the players within the organization are very talented. I expect the Celtics to start the season rather slow due to unfamiliarity between the players, but as the season progresses, so will the team.
Negatives: Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland ranked 22nd in the NBA in defensive efficiency last season. Swapping defensive liability, 5’9 Isaiah Thomas with 6’3 Kyrie Irving? That spells even more trouble on the defensive end. Now yes, the Cavaliers did aquire Jae Crowder who is known for his defense, but he likely will not be a starter on this loaded Cleveland roster. As a result, the Cavs should yet again struggle on the defensive end, despite having an explosive offense.
2. Isaiah Thomas’ hip injury remains a concern.
When asked about if the lingering hip injury that Thomas suffered in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Wizards this past season played a role in the decision to trade him away, Celtics GM Danny Ainge admitted that the injury concern did in fact play a role in his decision to trade away his star point guard. Originally, Isaiah Thomas did not need surgery. However, there has been some news here and there that his hip is still not 100 percent, which could lead to a lingering injury risk for the future for a player that is a year and a half away from turning 30.
Positives: Boston Celtics
1. The Celtics acquired the best player that was a part of this deal.
Although Thomas averaged 28.9 points per game last season and Irving only averaged 25.2, it is still clearly evident that Irving is the better overall player with better value. Keep in mind that Thomas was the only all-star on the Celtics last season, and therefore he was looked upon as the main guy. Irving’s situation was a bit different. He was on the same team as LeBron James, the best player in the world. He was reportedly no longer interested in being the shadow of LeBron, and that is why he wanted out of Cleveland. Now, the Celtics have a player who is a four-time NBA All-Star and an NBA champion, which would be very important if the Celtics were able to make it to the NBA Finals in the near future which is a very strong possibility.
2. Now that Jae Crowder is gone, this gives promising small forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum more opportunity to develop.
Crowder was a very important part of Boston’s recent success. However, I wanted Crowder traded as soon as the Celtics drafted Tatum with the 3rd overall pick in June. Before Crowder was traded, the Celtics had 4 small forwards on the roster in Hayward, Crowder, Brown, and Tatum. That is just too many to have on one team, especially since all 4 of them are very talented. There is a possibility now that either Brown or Tatum could start next season, but even if neither start, both of them will see plenty of minutes off the bench which will give them the opportunity to thrive.
Positives: Cleveland Cavaliers
1. They got rid of a player that did not want to be in Cleveland anymore, and got great value in return.
When Kyrie requested to be traded out of Cleveland, they basically had no choice but to trade him. You cannot keep a player that does not want to be there and still expect everything to work out. They are adding a scoring machine and NBA All-Star Isaiah Thomas who was 3rd in the NBA in points per game last season. Although Thomas is not as valuable as Irving, it is still a great addition to a team that was going through chaos not too long ago. It will be very interesting to see how Cleveland’s front office handles Thomas’ situation next summer when his 4 year, 27 million dollar contract expires, especially because Thomas will almost certainly want a max deal
2. 2018 Brooklyn Nets draft pick.
The 2017 NBA Draft was one of the deepest drafts that we have seen in a long time. While the 2018 draft likely will not be as deep as the 2017 draft, the top 4 picks in next year’s draft could very well top this past year’s top 4, which included Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, and Josh Jackson. In 2018, there will be Marvin Bagley, who is considered to be one of the most gifted recruits coming out of high school since LeBron, Michael Porter, who is also very highly-touted and very athletic, Deandre Ayton, who is an extremely polished post-scorer, and Mohamed Bamba, who is a very solid rim protector who has an insane 7’9 wingspan. If the Cavs can snatch any of those 4 players mentioned with the draft pick that they acquired, they will be very well-equipped for the future, especially if LeBron decides to walk out during free agency next summer.
Photo Credits: The Apparatus Mag