The controversial Kyrie Irving trade in 2017 gave the Cavaliers a path toward rebuilding quickly after LeBron James left, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The centerpiece of that deal was an unprotected first-round pick from Brooklyn that was used to draft Collin Sexton. Now in his third season, Sexton has developed into a prolific scorer, averaging 26.8 points per game and shooting 46.8% from 3-point range.
“He comes in every night with the mindset that you can’t stop him,” said backcourt partner Darius Garland. “And that’s what he shows the league, that’s what he shows the world and everybody that’s watching this basketball game. He’s getting wherever he wants. Getting teammates involved. I mean, a lot of people don’t do that.”
Cleveland used the other assets it acquired from the Celtics in that deal to gain valuable pieces, Fedor notes. Isaiah Thomas was sent to the Lakers in a deal for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. The Cavs flipped Jae Crowder in a trade for George Hill and Rodney Hood, and Hill was sent to the Bucks in a deal that brought back John Henson and a future first-rounder. Henson was used to acquire Andre Drummond from the Pistons, while the pick was part of the price for Jarrett Allen.
There’s more from Cleveland:
- While he’s with the Celtics now, Tristan Thompson continues to send messages of encouragement to Garland, Fedor adds in a separate story. Thompson adopted a mentorship role to Garland last year and helped him get through a difficult rookie season. “TT is like a big brother to me. He texts me before like almost every game.” Garland said. “He took me under his wing. TT has made his name in this league. He’s won a championship in this league. He knows what to do and how to get there. … Just hearing from him and having another guy I can talk to instead of my dad or some of my own teammates and coaches, it’s really cool having him there for me.”
- Although his time in Cleveland was troubled, Kevin Porter Jr. posted a social media message thanking the Cavaliers after being traded to Houston Friday night, Fedor relays in another piece. “Cleveland, thank you for giving me a chance to change not only my life but my family’s as well, and believing in me,” Porter wrote. “To the beloved city, the fans, my brothers I gained, the coaching staff and the entire organization, I appreciate you and won’t ever take the relationships we have for granted.”
- Early-season injuries to their best shooters forced the Cavs to rely on defense, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. That approach of “playing ugly” has become their calling card and has been reinforced by the trade that brought Allen and Taurean Prince from Brooklyn.