Tuesday’s massive trade between the Celtics and Cavaliers shook up the NBA during a time in the offseason when the news cycle is typically at its slowest. Like an oasis in the desert, the deal – which features a pair of All-Stars in Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas – has provided NBA observers with a fascinating topic of discussion, just when it seemed as if we’d said nearly all we could say about the roster changes made in June and July.
Of course, we already delved into the blockbuster trade at length on Tuesday night with a discussion post and a cap/roster analysis, but we have plenty more items from around the league to pass along today. Let’s dive in and round up some of the highlights, sorted by Cavs- and Celtics-centric stories…
- While some Cavaliers players had hoped Irving would remain with the team, the star point guard had let it be known prior to Tuesday’s deal that he would rather not report to training camp than to begin the season with Cleveland, sources tell Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. McMenamin also reports that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert had a desire to add a “big-name” player in an Irving trade — Thomas, the Eastern Conference’s leading scorer in 2016/17, fit that bill, despite questions about his hip.
- Gilbert issued a much more traditional and respectful statement following Irving’s departure than he did when LeBron James left the franchise back in 2010. As Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com details, Gilbert thanked Irving for his six years in Cleveland and wished him well during the next phase of his career.
- James issued a statement of his own via Twitter on Tuesday night, indicating that he has “nothing but respect” for Irving and calling the point guard a “special talent.”
- In a piece focused on the Cavaliers‘ long-term outlook, ESPN’s Bobby Marks examines how swapping Irving for Thomas and picking up the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder will give Cleveland some options and insurance in the event that LeBron leaves next summer.
- James’ silence on his plans beyond 2018 was a driving force behind the Cavaliers‘ decision to honor Irving’s trade request and plan ahead for the team’s future, writes Sam Amick of USA Today.
- After president of basketball operations Danny Ainge finally used some of his top assets and pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade, the Celtics have signaled that they’re ready to go for it now, not later, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald.
- Thomas’ emotional bond with Celtics fans and his role as the team’s leader made the decision to trade him a very difficult one for Ainge and the franchise, as Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald outlines.
- The Celtics had 16 players on guaranteed contracts prior to the trade, but now have just 14, leaving a potential open spot for their regular season roster. According to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link), the Celtics expect many agents to reach out about that opening, but Boston would be comfortable starting the regular season with just 14 players and maintaining some roster flexibility.
- As John Schuhmann of NBA.com observes (via Twitter), the Celtics now have just four players returning from last year’s roster, and fall to 29th in Schuhmann’s team continuity rankings. There’s optimism in Boston that the club’s new-look roster has more talent and upside, but the roster turnover will be a challenge for head coach Brad Stevens, particularly at the start of the season.
- ESPN’s Stats & Information department takes a look at some of the stats behind the trade, while ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) assigns grades for the swap, handing out an A to the Cavaliers and just a C to the Celtics.
- Tom Ziller of SBNation.com likes the deal for both teams on the surface, but explores how it could go “terribly wrong” for both the Cavaliers and Celtics.
- Although the Heat were named as one of Irving’s preferred landing spots, the package the Cavaliers received from the Celtics was one that Miami couldn’t possibly match, says Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Even if a Goran Dragic/Justise Winslow package might have intrigued the Cavs, the 2018 Nets pick included by Boston was a “game-changer,” Winderman adds.