Rumors about Kyrie Irving’s discontent with the Cavaliers organization have been swirling for about a month now, but nobody could’ve pictured the situation playing out as it ultimately did. It was initially reported that Kyrie listed the T-Wolves, Heat, Knicks, and Spurs as the teams he wanted to end up at, which left the NBA world trying to piece together potential trades between those teams and the Cavs. Then there were rumors about a potential trade in the works for Kyrie to go to the Suns in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and others, but those too never materialized.
At first glance it looks as though the Cavaliers were lucky to have come out of this trade with as much as they did. Earlier rumors, especially when people were talking about solely the list of teams Kyrie preferred, offered nowhere near the package the Cavaliers ultimately got. New GM Koby Altman must be very pleased with what the Cavs were able to make out of a very difficult situation, as they managed to add pieces for both now, and the future. Isaiah Thomas is an MVP-Caliber player who will have a season to play alongside LeBron, the best player on earth, and some think he’s a better fit for that role than Kyrie. They also got Jae Crowder who is a great complementary piece, Ante Zizic, and an unprotected first round pick in the 2018 draft that should be very high. If the Cavs lose LeBron and Isaiah after this season, at least they will have a head lottery pick to get a head start on their rebuild.
For the Celtics, this move is all about extending their window of competition. With Isaiah hitting free agency next season, the Celtics were approaching the tough decision of whether to sign him to a max contract or not. Kyrie has an extra year on his deal, allowing the Celtics to postpone having to potentially splurge for a max deal for another season. While it certainly hurts giving up that draft pick, the Celtics have had a lot of high draft picks these last few seasons who are still developing, so they are in a rare position to be able to afford giving that pick up. After a season as successful as last year, it is surprising to see the Celtics’ roster have changed so much, but new faces Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving have the potential to replicate last seasons strong results.
It’s too early to tell who won the trade; that will likely be clear by the end of the playoffs, as the two teams seem destined to meet in the playoffs. They face each other opening night, which should give both teams a chance to set the tone for the season.