On what seemed like a random Tuesday night, a blockbuster trade took place in the NBA.
Four time all-star point guard Kyrie Irving was sent to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 1st round pick.
Many negative reactions emerged on Twitter immediately following the trade, which was final at around 7 P.M. eastern time. One fan even went as far as to burn his Isaiah Thomas jersey, in an effort to get publicity.
Not my Point Guard pic.twitter.com/TVTI1Qu0aD
— Kyle Gordon (@kylegordon28) August 23, 2017
This makes my heart hurt. Why give up IT? He is the heart and soul of this team.
— Jen Cobb (@Snorrance) August 23, 2017
The Basketball Impact
This trade greatly benefits both teams. The Cavaliers have lacked depth for the last few years, and now with the additions of Thomas and Crowder, they have a bonafide starting point guard and a versatile wing who can take defensive pressure off of LeBron. Crowder had 2.5 Defensive Win Shares last season, and 3.5 in 2015. Iman Shumpert, who is regarded as a good perimeter defender, only had 1.4 Defensive Win Shares in 2016, and 1.8 in 2015.
For Boston, Irving provides a boost in star power to a team that relied on superior depth all of last season. Losing a key role player like Crowder is not a huge blow to the Celtics when they have two young wings in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to play energetic team basketball. With the addition of Irving, the point guard position is upgraded for years to come.
A four time all star and NBA champion, Irving is only 25 years old. It is debatable that Irving is only just entering his prime, while Thomas at age 28 is in his prime. Irving also has two years left on his deal, while Thomas only has one. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving might be in Celtic green for more than just two years as well.
Irving thrilled w/ joining Celtics and they’ll have great chance to eventually re-sign him. Boston made deal with strong belief he’ll stay.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 23, 2017
While Irving’s scoring numbers (25.2 points/Game) and Value Over Replacement Player (2.9) are significantly less than Thomas’ (28.9 points/Game and 4.8 VORP), he was playing with LeBron James. Isaiah had better numbers, but did not have a legend playing with him to take away points and assists. So the ceiling for Irving is incredibly high, while Thomas’ ceiling may have been his fifth place MVP voting season he registered in 2016-17. Standing six inches taller than Thomas, Irving provides a better defensive presence than Thomas did for Boston as well.
The Beyond Court Impact
Many have speculated James will leave Cleveland once the 2017-18 season is over, the Cavaliers had to make an impact to prove they could contend beyond 2018. This move does that.
Cleveland acquiring the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first round pick is a huge building block for Cleveland. This is ammo that owner Dan Gilbert can use to tell James that they are committed to a future built around him, and a bright future at that. Being able to add a top 5 pick in the draft next year can provide talent and cap flexibility that could appease James when free agency comes.
This trade gives Boston a direction that was previously unknown. Thomas was entering free agency and general manager Danny Ainge had so many assets, the public was wondering if he was too scared to cash in. Now, the team has cornerstones for the future in Irving and Gordon Hayward, and potential stars in Brown and Tatum. The Celtics now have a clear vision, and they needed that more than anything.
The Cavaliers and Celtics may be rivals currently, but they helped each other both out on Tuesday night, making the biggest trade of the NBA offseason.