The Cavaliers and Celtics were able to complete the Kyrie Irving trade before Thursday morning’s deadline after Boston agreed to send an additional pick to Cleveland. While Boston did well to draw the line at a future second-round pick, it’s not a great look for the Cavs, who let the saga play out very publicly for more than a week before settling for a 2020 selection that may not even fall in the top 45.
Although the move represents the first major trade completed by new Cavs GM Koby Altman, it was team owner Dan Gilbert who was calling the shots on the deal, multiple sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says that Gilbert’s “fingerprints were all over” this week’s drama. The Cavs owner, who publicly questioned the Pacers for their return in the Paul George deal, was very aware of the public perception of the Cavs’ return for Irving, O’Connor adds.
According to O’Connor, the Nets‘ first-round pick and Jae Crowder were the assets the Cavs management valued most in the swap, but LeBron James and head coach Tyronn Lue cooled somewhat on the trade when they learned that Isaiah Thomas could miss part of the 2017/18 season. The front office had sold James and Lue on the deal by making the case that Thomas and Crowder could help the club contend immediately, so Thomas’ health was a major concern, even if he wasn’t necessarily the centerpiece of the deal.
Here’s more out of Cleveland:
- While O’Connor suggests in his piece that the Cavs are preparing for the possibility of LeBron signing elsewhere in 2018, we can count Kevin Durant among those who don’t believe the King will leave Cleveland again. As Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com details, Durant told Bill Simmons on his podcast this week that he can see James remaining with the Cavs for the rest of his career.
- With the Irving deal done, former Cavs GM David Griffin, who was replaced this offseason by Altman, can envision the Cavs making another move before the trade deadline, as he said on NBA TV (h/t Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com). “One of the real blessings of this is Koby and his team don’t need to be done (trading) at this point,” Griffin said. “They can continue to try to build the team. The value-to-production of Jae Crowder and his contract are incredible. As you move closer to the trade deadline, the assets they’ve acquired may be able to be put to work again in continuing to improve the team. I think they clearly wanted to get some sustainability so that lottery pick was really important because in the absence of LeBron that’s the piece that helps them rebuild rather quickly.”
- Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com takes a closer look at where the Cavs stand now that the Irving era is officially over in Cleveland, and wonders whether the deal will end up helping or hurting the club’s quest for a second title in the last three years.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post.