If you haven’t heard the news yet, you’re probably living under a rock. Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers was swapped with Isiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics in what many consider as the biggest and most controversial NBA trade in the past decade. Although highly debatable, the trade was actually beneficial for the Celtics even though they did give up many of their key players in order to acquire a 25-year-old prime Kyrie Irving.
Cavaliers Acquire: Isiah Thomas (30), Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and a future first-round pick and second-round pick
Celtics Acquire: Kyrie Irving
Yeah, pretty wild.
From the outside, it seems as if the Celtics have gone mad. However, I beg to differ.
In the 2016-2017 NBA season, Isiah Thomas, arguably towards the end of his prime, led the Celtics to the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, finally surpassing LeBron James. This remarkable feat was short-lived as the Celtics were eliminated by the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. This loss ultimately led to the Celtics restructuring their team and looking towards the future.
Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving:
In order to land Gordon Hayward, a 27-year-old rising star, the Celtics knew they needed to pay him the max salary. They were willing to offer him $128 million dollars over 4 years. This hefty price came with other consequences; they cannot pay max salary to a 30-year-old Isiah Thomas, knowing he will not remain in his prime for the subsequent years. So, in order to clear cap space, the Celtics were looking for a younger player that will accept smaller pay for the following few years. Fortunately for them, Kyrie had concurrently requested a trade from the Cavaliers and the Celtics seized this opportunity.
How will letting go of your 5’8″ point guard along with your main big man benefit you? First of all, Isiah Thomas is very short for the NBA. His defense abilities against other guards in the NBA is limited. On the other hand, he is versatile on the offensive end. In order to have a team with more variety, the Celtics need a true point guard (Kyrie) along with shooting guards, and bigs that can score. Now that Jae Crowder is gone, young players like Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum have more opportunities to rise and show what they are capable of.
In 1-2 years, the Celtics will be in a formidable position in the East, with many young stars and a large cap space to eventually bring in more players to further develop their team.
The Cavaliers have received precisely the point guard they were looking for, an offensive, play-making Isiah Thomas. Unfortunately, Thomas suffered a hip injury and is projected to suit up for the Cavaliers only in January! I have no worries that LeBron and the squad will maintain a somewhat good position in the extremely frail East. Upon his return, however, I expect to see them climb to the top again
The 2017-2018 season will be a fruitful one for the Celtics. I expect to see them claim the number one seed again in the East. However, I still believe LeBron will ultimately get to the Finals this year. The Celtics have a few years to beat him and I believe that in the next 1-2 years, they will be capable of acquiring a championship.