August 23, 2017, 2:28 pm
We never learn do we?
There is no dull moment in today’s NBA.
Much of the media was on vacation (even the famous “Woj” was in Rome) with quiet weeks leading up to the preseason. And then it happened:
Celtics are sending Thomas, Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn's 2018 first-round pick for Kyrie Irving, league sources tell The Vertical. https://t.co/gdaT9UjVGl
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 22, 2017
Wow. A swap of the first pick in the 2011 draft for the last pick in the 2011 draft.
It’s hard to remember a time when two obvious conference contenders swapped superstars. Let’s take a look at what all of this means.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR CLEVELAND
Acquiring Isiah Thomas and losing Kyrie Irving has the potential to be a wash on the offensive side of the floor. Thomas played AAU basketball with Kevin Love, which should keep chemistry in check and perhaps elongate their tenure with the team. However, Cleveland’s defense on the point guard depth chart is now awful with Thomas, Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon to stand in the way. Yikes.
Jae Crowder fills a major need of the “3-and-D” nature that the Cavs have severely lacked in the finals. J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Kyle Korver were too one-dimensional. Crowder can help on both ends of the floor, which is pivotal against a potential re-re-re-rematch with the Warriors.
Unfortunately, the dark cloud of LeBron James‘ probable 2018 departure casts a strong shadow on any future beyond this season. If LeBron bolts, it will leave a bleak future that will make his other Cavs teammates also want to go elsewhere.
That is why it was smart for the Cavs to receive Brooklyn’s first round pick. They now have an attractive asset if they want to go all-in for this final LeBron season. If they keep the pick, the Nets will be in the #TeamTank sweepstakes so a LeBron departure will at least leave them with a possible high pick to start a new era. Regardless, anyone that loses LeBron loses a top all-time player. They will never recover, but they have to try. The pick will help.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR BOSTON
The Celtics went all-in for Kyrie Irving, a player deserving of top-dog status in a conference starving for stars. In various moments throughout the NBA Finals, Irving displayed MVP potential even under LeBron’s shadow. He now has the permission to spread his wings, which should be a beauty to see.
The Celtics will start a lineup that looks something like this: Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris and Al Horford. Under coach Brad Stevens, a player with the untapped ceiling as Kyrie Irving could take them to new heights.
Another subtle reason why the Celtics made this trade was to effectively end the Cavs dynasty. If there was any doubt that LeBron would leave, it’s all gone with this swap. The era is over and the Celtics are built for the future.
This move bodes well for both teams. The Cavs got much needed defense with Jae Crowder while swapping Kyrie for another offensive juggernaut. In 2017-18, they got a great deal. Meanwhile, the Celtics set themselves up with a young nucleus with a potential franchise guy in Kyrie Irving.
As far as the NBA goes, all loyalty is officially lost on both sides. If you blame players like LeBron and KD leaving for better teams, look no further than Danny Ainge‘s treatment of Isaiah Thomas after an amazing and emotional season. Sports can be a cruel business.
That’ll do it for Wednesday’s Daily Dish, offseason edition! As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter, I’m @RiazD. Don’t forget to follow all of our breaking news and rumors @HoopBallTweets. Enjoy the last days of summer!!