Last night, the Boston Celtics unexpectedly traded Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 1st round pick in 2018 for Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavailers. While this move makes sense for both teams, I believe that one team definitively “won” the trade. I will now analyze why this trade makes sense for both teams but why one team got the better deal:
When Kyrie requested a trade in July, Kobi Altman was forced to make a tough decision going into what could be Lebron’s last year in Cleveland; whether they should try to get a superstar to make one last championship push with Lebron, or to prepare for life after Lebron and get young assets. This trade allows the Cavs to achieve both goals simultaneously. Isaiah Thomas is still an all-star point guard who is as close to a Kyrie Irving replacement as you can get and Jae Crowder is the 3 and D guy the Cavs desperately needed against the Warriors. Isaiah Thomas will take some of the scoring load off of Lebron and Jae Crowder will be vital against the Warriors as he can guard Kevin Durant and Draymond Green and be able to switch onto their guards. Both of these players will help the Cavs next year in their pursuit of their second championship. However, they also received Ante Zizic, the 23rd overall pick in the 2016 draft who posted solid numbers overseas this past year and has shown flashes of potential, and, most importantly, the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 unprotected draft pick. As a huge Nets fan, it kills me to say this, but the Nets will not be very good next year. This pick will likely end up as a top 5 pick in next year’s draft. This means getting the likes of Michael Porter Jr., Marvin Bagely III, and, my favorite prospect in next year’s draft, Luka Doncic. All three of these players are potential franchise cornerstones and players who the Cavs can rebuild around should Lebron leave next summer.
The Celtics were desperate to get their point guard of the future and they wanted to trade Isaiah Thomas because they did not want to pay him the max contract he would demand next summer. This trade accomplishes both of these goals as Kyrie will be their point guard of the future. However, the Celtics also traded Jae Crowder, a versatile wing, who was a key part of the Celtics team last year and the Nets’ first round pick in 2018 to get him. The Celtics just had the chance to get Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, but they traded the pick away in order to get Tatum. Both of these players are potential star point guards. By using this pick on a point guard, The Celtics could have accomplished two things:
1. Avoided the log jam at the small forward position by NOT choosing another small forward
2. Chosen their point guard of the future without giving up a key role player and a probable top 5 pick.
Many people believe that the Celtics will try and trade for Anthony Davis and make him the centerpiece as they try to build a championship team. However, there is one problem. Anthony Davis is extremely hard to trade for. The Pelicans are not going to give up their star for free and will demand a lot in return for him. The BrooklynNets’ 2018 pick would have made trading for Anthony Davis a lot easier.
In my eyes, the Cavs clearly won this trade. The package Cleveland received was far better than what the Pacers, Bulls, or Kings received for Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and Demarcus Cousins, respectively, even though I believe all three of those players are better than Kyrie. In addition, the package the Cavs got in return prepares them for both the present and the future. I also believe that the Celtics simply overpaid for an overrated point guard who has benefited from being teammates with the best player in the world. Kyrie ranked 12th among point guards last year in real plus-minus. The Cavs got outscored by 36 points when Kyrie was on the court in last year’s Finals. He suffered a few major injuries and has many holes in his game, particularly on defense.The point is that Kyrie Irving is overrated and is definitely not worth giving up a point guard who ranks similarly to Kyrie in every stat, a solid bench piece who can guard every position, a young center with potential, and a potential franchise cornerstone.