This NBA offseason has been one for the ages. There have been some huge moves that will likely shake up the NBA quite a bit. With CP3 now in Houston, Paul George in OKC, and Hoodie Melo at the local YMCA, you would think that this NBA offseason could not heat up much more. That was until Kyrie Irving asked the Cavs organization for a trade. After weeks and weeks of rumors, the Celtics and Cavaliers pulled off one of the biggest trades in recent memory and after some speed bumps, it has officlaly been processed. Lets take a look at which team won this trade.
Cavs Recieve: Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, Brooklyn Nets 18–19 first round pick, and the Boston Celtics 2020 second round pick.
Celtics Receive: Kyrie Irving
- Isaiah Thomas: IT is 28 years old and coming off of a career year averaging 28.9 points per game and leading the Boston Celtics to the Easter Conference Finals before his season ended with a hip injury. Thomas has a lot of upside, he has proven that he can be a go to scorer even though he is severely undersized and is entering his prime which means he will likely get better. He is however currently injured (severity not 100% known) and is going to be an unrestricted free agent in 2018, which means he will likely require a max contract to keep on roster.
- Jae Crowder: Crowder is a versatile small forward, his size and athleticism allows him to guard numerous positions and he is competent shooting from the perimeter as well. Crowder gives them a small boost in athleticism and a solid role player who can provide on both ends of the court. Crowder also has a very light contract, getting paid 7 mil a year through the 2020 season. This sweetens the pot quite a bit. Crowder has been improving at a steady rate while he has been in the league, and has shown flashes of having a lot of upside. Crowder will give the Cavs a guy that can come in and play sme tough defense and allow Lebron to focus more on the offensive end, this was a much needed pickup for the Cavs.
- Ante Zizic: The unknown man of this trade is Ante Zizic; the 20 year old big man from Croatia who was drafted 23rd overall by the Celtics in 2016. Zizic stands at 7 feet tall and is a big body that the cavs can use. Zizic is going to be new to the NBA scene and has a lot of growing up to do. In his summer league stints this year, he averaged around 9 points and 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in just 20 minutes a game. That won’t translate to the league, but it will allow the Cavs to have a big body in the paint when Tristan Thompson takes a break. Zizic likely won’t show much value this season, but since he is so young, he has potential to return value in the future.
- Nets First Rounder(2018): The Brooklyn Nets first round pick in 2018 speaks for itself. It will most likely be a top 3 pick in another strong draft class. I expect that Lebron will actually determine the fate of whether the Cavs will have this pick at the end of the year. If the Cavs feel that they can move this pick for a player that would give them the firepower to beat the Warriors and in return, keep Lebron, then it will most likely be traded away before the deadline. However, if the Cavs get any sort of indication that Lebron is truly on his way out regardless of the outcome of the season, their could be a fire sale in Cleveland for some assets to build around this top pick. Regardless of what talent level Thomas, crowder, and Zizic bring to the table, this pick is the Cavs treasure in this trade because it gives them valuable assets outside of the players that actually produce for them. One major asset this pick gives the Cavs is in the trade value department. With numerous players on the trading block, don’t be surprised if the Cavs decide to shop this pick in search of another star.
- Heat Second Rounder (2020): The 2020 Boston Celtics second round pick (via Miami) was just thrown in as a “sorry we didn’t tell you IT’s hip injury is kinda bad”. This pick doesn’t mean much for the trade, but Cleveland wanted more in compensation for IT’s injury so they took just about anything the Celtics would offer.
- Kyrie Irving is a 25 year old superstar who is under contract until 2020 and gets significantly better each year. He has grown up a lot in Cleveland and has shows that he can will his team to win when it matters most. Kyrie is a lethal scorer that can completely change the game if he is in rhythm, and has solidified himself as one of the best closers in the game. Kyrie Irving gives the Celtics a young franchise cornerstone that the city of Boston has been hoping for. Building around a player like Kyrie, who will likely be wearing a Celtics uniform for much of his career, gives the Celtics well built and well rounded team much more free agent appeal. Landing Kyrie also saves the Celtics spending max money on Isaiah Thomas, who is older, undersized, and has less upside than Kyrie.
This trade is tough to analyze, because realistically, both teams achieved their on specific goals. The Cavs found a way to respect Kyries trade request and they got a great return. This trade gave the Cavs a great balance of being able to compete for a championship this upcoming year all while being able secure a future without Lebron. On the other hand, Danny Ainge was able to land that super star talent he has been hoping to draft (reason for not trading the Brooklyn picks before). When Kyrie hit the trade market, the Celtics felt that the upside of a player with his caliber and his current age was just too high to pass up. Clearly the Celtics feel that Kyrie is a generational talent and that made parting ways with that Brooklyn pick much easier on Ainge.
Short Term Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers
As far as next season goes, the winner of this trade are the Cavaliers (assuming IT is 100% come playoff time). The Cavs were able to bolster depth and add some bodies off the bench that can have a positive impact on the game, yes it hurts to lose a guy like Kyrie Irving, but looking at their overall roster, they were able to improve on their bench, while adding another elite scorer into their starting (or to come off the bench). None of these guys can impact the game like Kyrie, but at the same time they flipped Kyrie for two, maybe three productive players who make the team much more well rounded. The Cavs have put the talent around Lebron that may just get him to stick around till he calls it quits, especially if they flip the Nets pick for a player like Melo or Marc Gasol. This move will likely keep the Cavs on top of the East for the next year or two and will probably keep Lebron around which is likely their main goal.
Long Term Winner: The Boston Celtics
On the surface, this trade looks like the Celtics sold half their team for Kyrie, but in reality, the Celtics traded away a battered and injured Isaiah Thomas, who is certain to demand max money next offseason, or close too. Jae crowder who was at this point going to be taking minutes away from guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who both need a lot of court time to grow, and with doing this, Ainge had no second thoughts about throwing in an unproven asset like Zizic. The Brooklyn pick is something that was the trade bait the Celtics needed to pull off any trade for a all-star caliber player. The Celtics have themselves a strong, young, talented neucleas and the scary part is, their two best players aren’t even 28 yet. Ainge has found himself four guys in Tatum, Hayward, Brown, and now Kyrie to build a team around and still has nearly guaranteed top 10 pick in both 2018 and 2019 (via the Lakers, 76ers, and kings). I don’t believe this team has the firepower to take down a fully healthy Cavs tean this year, but they are likely a bet to take it to six or seven competitive games. With the high free agent appeal (young and talented core), enough cap space to sign another max player, a highly talented team with NBA finals potential, and still being able to keep very valuable future assets, the Celtics have put themselves in a place where they could build a Dynasty in the next few years.