Kyrie Irving has a new home as the disgruntled Cavaliers All-Star was traded to the Celtics as part of a four-player trade that also sends the Nets‘ unprotected 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland. On the surface, it seems that the Irving saga is over; all involved parties can move on, and things can retain a sense of normalcy.
This latest chapter is just beginning as the trade and its ramifications will be examined under a microscope that won’t even reflect Isaiah Thomas’ alleged growth spurt. Thomas, who will head to Cleveland as part of the trade, will do so with questions surrounding his hip — the same hip that caused him to miss most of the playoffs in 2016/17. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge spoke to reporters, including ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link) on a conference call Tuesday night and indicated that Thomas’ troubled hip played “some” part in the decision to consummate a deal.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that the Celtics expected a mix of rehab and rest would bring Thomas back to full health. Now, the Cavaliers plan with Thomas is to “monitor closely” as he recovers, adding that the team is “anxious” to give him a physical. However, Wojnarowski adds that Cleveland has “no short term concerns” with Thomas’ hip and instead view him as a player entering his contract year with extra motivation.
Thomas indicated multiple times this offseason that his goal is to land a maximum contract in free agency. In an interview with Stephen Hewitt of the Boston Herald earlier this month, Thomas said he feels confident about landing a max deal.
“Very confident,” Thomas said. “I deserve it. I put the work in, and you can put me down against any guard in the NBA. . . . My numbers are up there with the best players in the world, and my team is winning. So, I mean, you have to reward that.”
Thomas, 28, is not the only player in the deal who will reach free agency soon. Irving is set to hit the open market in 2019, but Wojnarowski reported that Irving is “thrilled” to join Boston and that the Celtics made the deal with a “great chance” to re-sign him (Twitter Link).
“Kyrie is one of the best scorers in the NBA. He has proven that on the biggest stage, the NBA Finals, the last three years,” Ainge said in a press release announcing the trade. “He’s been an NBA champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and a four-time All-Star. For all he’s accomplished, we think his best years are ahead of him.”
Factoring in the rest of Cleveland’s return (Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the aforementioned draft pick), the team secured a sizeable haul in exchange for a player who, for all his talented, reportedly wanted out. Pairing a healthy Thomas with Crowder’s defense along with LeBron James, Kevin Love and lower-tier talents like Derrick Rose and Tristan Thompson makes for a dynamic team.
Whether or not that draft pick lands Cleveland a game-changing talent, Thomas or Irving re-sign with their new teams, or if any of the secondary pieces pan out will the be major storylines to watch. The analysis of this trade will take on a new life when the Cavaliers welcome the Celtics to Cleveland on opening night October 17.
Do you think this trade works out well for both sides? Do you think Thomas’ hip injury will be an issue? Will Irving cement himself as Boston’s primary option? Sound off in the comments below!