Irving to Boston; Thomas to Cleveland: Who Won the Trade?

Photo: RON SCHWANE/AP

The NBA never sleeps. Just when everyone thought the NBA was being dialed down, the trade rumors picked up later this afternoon and only a couple hours later, rumor turned into reality. The Cleveland Cavaliers traded All-Star PG Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for All-Star PG Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and a 2018 first round pick (Via Brooklyn, Unprotected).

Why?

It’s a big question why these teams would trade with each other considering the fact that they were #1 and #2 in the Eastern Conference this year. But on Cleveland’s side, Boston offered them a deal so good that they simply couldn’t afford to pass it up. On Boston’s side, they get a chance at a proven point guard who averaged 25 points a game playing next to LeBron James.

What do the Cavaliers Get?

Isaiah Thomas

Thomas is a star. With the Celtics, he shot 38% from three and averaged 28.9 points per game. While most would prefer Kyrie Irving due to his size, Thomas’ ability to go on stretches where he can’t be guarded is unbelievable.

Thomas, 28, has his downsides including his size (5’9″) and his defense, but he will make a great impact on the Cavs and continue to make them contenders in the East. Thomas had one year left on his deal and will be a free agent after the 2017-18 season.

Jae Crowder-

Jae Crowder provides two things that the Cavaliers don’t have much of: cheap players and defenders. Crowder fits in nicely because he shoots very well, but he can also serve as a much-needed backup to LeBron James. With Crowder being due 21.9 million dollars over the next three years, the Cavs saved big financially on a quality backup.

Ante Zizic-

Losing Zizic is a huge blow to the Celtics, especially since they’re particularly thin in the frontcourt. Zizic, a Croatian big drafted in the first-round last year, has been described as a skilled 7-footer who has the nickname “Baby Shaq” overseas. Being only 20, no one is quite sure if he will play immediately for the Cavs, but he’s got real potential to be the Cavs starting center in a few years.

Brooklyn’s Unprotected 2018 First Round Pick-

This is absolutely huge for the Celtics. With the Nets projected to be bad again this year, this pick is probably going to end up inside the top 5. And who knows, the last two times the Cavs have been in the lottery, they’ve gotten the #1 overall pick (2013,2014). With guys like Marvin Bagley and Michael Porter Jr. eligible for next year’s draft, the Cavs have potential to strike gold in next year’s draft.

What do the Celtics Get?

Kyrie Irving-

After Kyrie Irving requested a trade, there was a couple suitors on the table for his services, but Boston was not one of them. But, Boston got the player they wanted. Irving averaged 25.2 PPG last season next to LeBron James and Kevin Love, which is quite remarkable. Irving’s late game scoring reminds many of Kobe Bryant, especially when Irving hit the clutch 3 in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. Irving and Gordon Hayward will make a killer duo together to keep the Celtics competitive.

Irving has a good contract, for Irving has about 60 million dollars left over three years. In this year’s NBA, that’s a bargain. Since Thomas is a free agent after this season (only making 6m this year), the Celtics will save roughly 15 million dollars (maybe more depending on cap limit next offseason) by grabbing Irving.

There also has been reports that Irving is committed to staying in Boston for the long-haul, which makes this a better deal for the Celtics. Irving will probably average more points now that he won’t have to share a lot of shots in Boston (J.R. Smith alone took 8.7 shots a game).

Who Won the Deal?

If any other team had given Cleveland the talent that Boston did, I would’ve said that team had gotten fleeced. But, Boston has so many assets and for a rival to make a trade with you, you will have to overpay. The Celtics still have lots of assets left, including 2 first round picks next year, so Ainge still has plenty to work with. With Irving having 3 bargain years on his deal left, the Celtics save a lot of money and get one of the best point guard’s in the NBA. And with Irving’s commitment to stay in Boston, the Celtics have the faces of their franchise for a while (Irving and Hayward).

But, Cleveland won this trade. The amount of talent Cleveland obtained is amazing and will help them rebuild post-LeBron. It’s unclear whether LeBron will leave after next offseason or later, but the Cavs took a big step forward in preparing for the future. Zizic can very well be a starting center in a few years, and the 2018 first rounder has a legit chance at becoming the #1 overall pick. Crowder and Thomas also help the Cavs win now. The Cavs arguably got better in the present and definitely helped their future with this deal.

 

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