HOT SOUP! Kyrie Irving to the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic (who the hell is he anyway?), and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick to the Cavaliers. Wow. What a trade.
My immediate reaction: my Celtics are the winners of this trade, plain and simple. First things first, Irving is a stud. He’s a career 20+ per game scorer and he’s coming off a season in which he set career high’s in points per game (25.2) and field goal percentage (.473). There’s arguably no better finisher at the rim than Uncle Drew, and if you ever need a reminder of what he can do on a basketball court, look no further than these videos. More importantly, he’s good for roughly 25 points per game in the playoffs. And in the NBA Finals, that figure bumps up to 28 per game. Did I mention he’s only 25-years-old?
Meanwhile, Danny Ainge did what was necessary by trading Isaiah Thomas. And boy do I hate saying that. I loved watching Thomas play for the Celtics. How could you not? He was electric. He energized the TD Garden to heights that hadn’t been seen since the Big Three era. Without him, Boston’s rebuild would still be taking place.
Nonetheless, Ainge made a very ‘Belichickian’ move by not rewarding Thomas for past success. In short, it would’ve been wildly foolish to give Thomas a max contract, particularly after he suffered a significant hip injury late last season. That hip, by the way, has still not completely healed. Plus, Thomas’ success has been rather short-lived. Only recently did he make his first two All-Star appearances. The likely outcome, in the event Boston actually gave Thomas $30+ million per year, would’ve been that Ainge and company would be severely overpaying for a 5’9″ scoring guard with potentially a lingering hip situation.
Moreover, we have to look at how this trade affects Cleveland. To be clear, this was actually a pretty good trade for them as well, just not in the short-term. Securing a first-round pick from Brooklyn, who will almost certainly finish with one of the worst records in the NBA next year, ensures that the Cavaliers can start their rebuilding process a year earlier.
Yes, the rebuilding process. There’s no way LeBron remains in Cleveland past 2018 after this trade. Thomas won’t be as good of a sidekick as Irving and there’s no chance James will patiently watch the Cavs retool a roster that will likely not have enough cap-space for himself, Thomas, Kevin Love, Tristian Thompson, and other key role players. LeBron will be either a Laker or Clipper by this time next year. Hammer it.
The destruction of the Cavs is nearly complete. And as a result of this shocking trade, Kyrie Irving is the one who has unexpectedly tipped the scales in favor of the Celtics. Does this now mean that Boston is the favorite to win the East this season? No, probably not. Let’s give the defending three-time Eastern champs their due, for now.
But now that we have Irving, it’s only a matter of time before the torch is passed. No other team in the conference has the combination of established and emerging talent like the Celtics. Remember, we also just added Gordon Hayward! And with two former top-three picks in 20-year-old Jaylen Brown and 19-year-old Jayson Tatum in the fold, it’s likely that at least one of them develops into an All-Star as well.
Alright, I’m done holding back. Time to prematurely celebrate and channel my inner-Will Ferrell. WE’RE GOING TO THE FINALS!