It is rare that a trade in professional sports is seen as a “win-win”. Especially if it involves a superstar player.
Well in this case, the trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics not only involved TWO superstar players in Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas, but I believe both teams actually improved.
Let’s take a look-see, shall we?
First, let’s start with the Cavs.
In addition to Thomas, Cleveland acquired Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 unprotected first-round pick. Sure Zizic is a tomato can, and we never know what type of player the Cavs could draft with Brooklyn’s pick.
However, the Cavs got a pretty damn good player in Crowder. Crowder could guard up to four positions, and brings the Cavs a gritty toughness it often lacked vs. Golden State in the NBA Finals.
And let’s face it, the Cavs are preparing for life post-LeBron James. At least they have some assets to ease the pain if (and when) he leaves. I’m not saying the Cavs will still win over 50 games after LeBron leaves, but they won’t suck like they did after LeBron left before. Thomas and Crowder (along with Kevin Love) would make sure of that.
As for the Celtics, this is about doing what they could to win NOW.
I think Kyrie is a better fit for Boston than Isaiah was. He is a much bigger version of Thomas, which is great for Boston. He is more skilled and not nearly a defensive liability as Thomas. I also think Kyrie will feel rejuvenated playing alongside Gordon Hayward and Al Horford.
And more importantly, I think Kyrie will enjoy playing for coach Brad Stevens more than Ty Lue. I bet he still thinks Lue is LeBron’s puppet, but that’s another post for another time.
By the way, as much as I think the gap has closed between the Cavs and Celtics, nothing is going to change in terms of predictions for the upcoming season. I STILL think the “turrible” (eat your heart out, Charles Barkley) Eastern Conference is the Cavs’ to lose, and it will still be a two-team race between those two teams.
I just think that Boston acquired a fearless scorer that will keep them in prime position to make the NBA Finals once LeBron leaves the Cavs, especially if he goes to the Western Conference. The Cavs now have the resources to not fall on their faces once LeBron splits town.
Hence, the definition of a “win-win”…