Boston Celtics

Despite a horrible offseason, the Cavs come out on top in the Kyrie Irving deal


Kyrie Irving

With the deck stacked against them this offseason due to an almost unhinged and unpredictable owner in Tom Gores, the Cavs undoubtedly came out on top in the wake of the Kyrie Irving/Isaiah Thomas deal.

Tuesday, the Cavs managed to flip the disgruntled Irving to the Celtics for a package of players that included Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, as well as the Nets’ 2018 unprotected first round draft pick.

It was an amazing return for Cleveland who aside from Gores’ actions over the course of the past few months, couldn’t have possibly lost any more leverage in a potential Irving deal.

First, unless you’ve been living under a rock in the NBA world you’d know that Irving has been extremely vocal about his desire to get out from under LeBron James’ shadow and leave Cleveland. In fact it seemed as though things got heated between the two to the point where it was unimaginable the duo could co-exist on the same team together.

Knowing that, you’d think teams around the Association would be more inclined to offer less. Especially considering the real possibility of said player becoming a malcontent if he didn’t end up getting dealt.

Second, you also had to factor in the market and precedents set this offseason.

Chicago’s criminal negligence in their swap that sent Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves for essentially a free coffee at Starbucks and scratch-off lottery ticket would have set in motion a poor return for Cleveland. This of course on the notion Jimmy Butler being a better player than Irving who becomes a ghost when it comes to playing any defense.

However none of those potentially inhibiting factors became an issue for the Cavs.

Instead, Cleveland now has plenty of options on the table while starring down a pivotal summer in 2018.

First, with Thomas the Cavs will still be incredibly competitive next season. Sure, he’s not as good as Irving and the addition of Thomas still doesn’t solve Cleveland’s shortcomings on defense in the back court. Nonetheless the Cavs avoid losing too much ground in the East where they’re still undoubtedly the best team in the Conference.

Cleveland’s dominance however will have question marks beyond next season when LeBron possibly bolts and Isaiah Thomas becomes a free agent.

But that doesn’t mean the Cavs will backed into a corner.

Cleveland still holds the Nets’ first round pick in 2018 which can become an incredibly valuable lottery pick depending on what the Cavs ultimately decide to do with it. If LeBron decides to stay, Cleveland can include the pick in a deal for another bona fide superstar. If LeBron decides to leave the Cavs could potentially expedite a potential rebuild with a high-end prospect who could be plugged into the equation right away.

Then there’s always the possibility Thomas stays, LeBron stays and the Cavs hold on to the pick and get younger at the same time.

That may be the most far-fetched scenario but it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

On the flip-side the Celtics made out pretty well themselves.

Irving is an upgrade from Thomas and seems happy with the deal himself, so much he’s already talking extension when his current deal expires. Additionally, the Celtics were able to hold onto talented forwards in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown plus potentially set themselves up for a wide-open Eastern Conference if LeBron leaves Cleveland and heads out West.

Boston though is left with more questions on their end of the deal than their Cleveland counterparts.

To start, there’s no guarantee Irving stays around when his deal expires. Sure he’s singing the praises now but things could go south pretty quick. Not to mention without that Nets 2018 first round pick in their back pocket, Irving remaining in Boston becomes that much more important to sustain themselves as a contender in the East.

Moreover, the Celtics took some dramatic steps back this offseason in terms of their back court defense.

After dealing Avery Bradley to the Pistons since Danny Ainge can’t seem to comprehend the salary cap when acquiring Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are now stricken with Irving’s inefficiencies to play on both ends of the court.

Plus lets not beat around the bush, Irving wasn’t able to get it done in Cleveland until LeBron came along.

Not to be so pessimistic though with Irving, he does fit in better with the Celtics’ core group of players. It’s just the gamble in this deal resides much more on the side of Boston.

Plainly speaking, if LeBron doesn’t leave Cleveland this deal could very well be a lateral move for Boston who could once again find themselves playing second fiddle to the Cavs.

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