Just when the NBA offseason seemed over, one of the biggest moves shook up the top of the Eastern Conference.
Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick were shipped away for Kyrie Irving Tuesday night and it shocked the NBA. Kyrie was obviously demanding a trade, however most people didn’t view the Boston Celtics as a landing spot, even if they could offer the best package.
As the top two teams in the Eastern Conference last season, the Cavaliers and Celtics didn’t seem like ideal trade partners. This trade is unique because both teams have gotten better in their own ways.
Ultimately there were two big problems here. Isaiah Thomas is one offseason away from a new possible max contract, and Jae Crowder would contribute to a log jam at the small forward position.
When the Celtics made this trade, they were looking for stability, and that comes with Kyrie Irving. Irving has at least one more year on his contract and he is obviously not coming off a hip injury.
Jae Crowder is a guy who would ultimately interfere with the development of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Crowder would receive minutes that could be going to Tatum and Brown, which are important minutes that would speed up their development.
Based on this season’s summer league (obviously not that important), Zizic was at least one step slow. He seemed to be a few years away from translating his skills to contribute to an NBA rotation.
The biggest part of this whole deal is the Brooklyn Nets draft pick. The Nets haven’t recently been a powerhouse, and because of that the chance of that pick being high in the lottery is more likely than not.
The 2018 NBA Draft will be a loaded draft without a doubt, but with the additions of D’Angelo Russell and DeMarre Carroll, the Nets might not be in the cellar anymore.
Listen, there really wasn’t a choice for Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers here. Kyrie had voiced his frustration and if he had stayed on the Cavs to start the season, who knows how it would’ve played out.
The Celtics ultimately had the most to offer, but sending one of your stars to a conference rival is always messy. I don’t think the Cavaliers get to the Warriors level with this move, but they do close the gap.
Isaiah Thomas’ production-wise is nearly even with Kyrie and much cheaper, but the big key here is Crowder.
Richard Jefferson seems like he’s been playing in the NBA for 30 years, but for a fair amount of Finals minutes he chases Kevin Durant around. Jae Crowder adds another wave of defense to try and contain Durant.
In turn, Jae can attempt to guard Durant and give LeBron more minutes to rest.
The trade also opens up the idea of life after LeBron or could even get him to stay. The 2018 Nets pick could very well be a star.
There has been a lot of speculation on what LeBron will do next summer in regards to where he will play. If LeBron does walk, the Nets pick could be a player to build around. At the same time, LeBron could look at that as a reason to stay, and another playmaker to compete with the Warriors down the road.
The East moving forward
Oddly enough, these players were viewed differently by their former fan bases. Thomas was loved by the Celtics for putting it all on the line every night. Kyrie made the biggest shot in Cleveland Cavaliers history, but he also demanded to be traded out of that same scenario.
Both of the primary players in this trade are below average defenders and that’s a given, but both guards have unique skills that will be better suited for their new locations.
Kyrie is a pure playmaker who loves to finish around the rim and is possibly the best finisher in our game today. He comes to a Celtics team looking to help stretch the floor and finish when team don’t collapse, something he is better than Thomas at.
Thomas has the ability to spot up and also slash to create for others. Sharing the ball with LeBron will mean he will be off the ball much more than he was with the Celtics.
His spot up shooting was at 40 percent from three last season and that is with a large sample size. Thomas’ statistics will diminish without being the primary offensive weapon but he will still score well.
Both the Cavaliers and Celtics got better, and neither team lost this trade as the teams just filled different needs. The two top teams in the East just got a whole lot more interesting. Keep a lookout for opening night where Kyrie will get his nice warm welcome by Cavalier fans.
Featured Image Courtesy of ArkansasNewsonline.com.
“From Our Haus to Yours”