Kyrie Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the vaunted 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick. While many thought the Cavaliers won the trade, it was still pretty good for both teams. Now the deal may be in jeopardy because of Isaiah Thomas’ hip injury.
If the trade falls through… Well, that’s awkward for everyone. The only people who could possibly be happy with this trade being voided are Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose.
Isaiah Thomas would have to return to Boston where he’s been trashed in the media and fans have burned his jerseys. That max deal he was hoping to get next summer? The idea that someone was going to give a 30-year old, 5’9″ point guard a supermax contract was questionable when Thomas was healthy. Now he’s got a hip injury so bad he can’t be traded. Hurt feelings are one thing. Try losing $100 million or so with one trip to the doctor.
As for Cleveland, the Cavaliers will be back to trying to move Kyrie and they are unlikely to find a team willing to overpay like the Celtics appeared to be. I say “appeared” because it now looks like the Patriots aren’t the only Boston-based sports team that tries to trade injured players… Anybody feel like making a deal with Danny Ainge right now?
So what’s next? Cleveland and Boston can go back to trade talks, but unless Boston parts with real assets – on the Jaylen Brown / Jayson Tatum level – how do they match their previous “good-faith” offer of an All-Star MVP candidate? Without Isaiah, getting Kyrie to Boston seems difficult.
Then there’s the Brooklyn pick. The Cavaliers briefly had a shot at a shot at a franchise-transforming talent in next year’s draft. Maybe the Nets aren’t the worst team in the NBA this season, but what team is more likely to win the lottery than the Cleveland Cavaliers? When LeBron left the first time they won the lottery 3 times in 4 years between 2011 and 2014. In ’11 they picked Kyrie with a Clippers pick. In ’13 they won the lottery with the third-best odds (Anthony Bennett) and in ’14 they won with the 9th best odds (Andrew Wiggins).
If the Nets improve this year and their pick falls out of the top 5, this wasn’t such a bad loss for Cleveland, but let’s be honest. If LeBron left the Cavs would definitely win the lottery. Plus, this trade was the best argument for keeping LeBron. Without it the Cavaliers lose LeBron and are left with the twenty-somethingth pick. What if Boston ends up with Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter, or Luka Doncic and that guy turns out to be as good as advertised. That really sucks for Cleveland.
And what do they do with Kyrie? Phoenix? Milwaukee? A year with a very awkward locker room? Will Cleveland have to take a Jimmy Butler / Paul George-type return just to get rid of Kyrie?
There would also be consequence for Boston. How miserable would Isaiah Thomas be this season? And how hobbled? And what if Chris Broussard’s sources were telling the truth about Thomas not being liked by teammates in Boston? There’s a lot that can go wrong in a season that was supposed to be Boston’s best shot to be LeBron. Now they have to wait another season and find a new point guard. Could this ruin both teams’ seasons? Could this be the opening the Brooklyn Nets needed to win the East?
This trade falling apart would be bigger than the Chris Paul – Lakers deal with major consequences for both teams and many players. We thought the trade was crazy. This is somehow even crazier. It is the perfect cap to the 2017 NBA offseason. And there are still two months left before the season begins.