Cavaliers Trade All-Star Kyrie Irving to Celtics
Earlier this summer, shocking news broke that Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving had requested a trade. On Tuesday, the even more shocking news that the Cavs had agreed to trade him to the rival Boston Celtics broke. Irving was shipped to the Celtics on Tuesday evening in exchange for fellow All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, swingman Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round draft pick.
At the time he requested a trade, the 25-year-old Irving insisted he wanted to get out from underneath the shadow of LeBron James. Irving wanted a situation in which he could be the offensive focal point, which should be the case now that he’s with the Celtics.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge issued the following statement on the deal (via ESPN):
“This has obviously been a roller coaster of a day for us, trading away Isaiah and Jae and Ante, especially Isaiah and Jae, who have been such a big part of our team and our success and our Celtic culture as leaders of our team. Very, very difficult day. At the same time, a very exciting time [to add] one of the best offensive players in the league.”
Irving is reportedly “excited” to be joining the Celtics, who finished last season with the best record in the Eastern Conference. However, just four players (Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier) remain from last season’s roster. The team has already lost the likes of Avery Bradley, Amir Johnson and Tyler Zeller in addition to the three players that were sent to the Cavaliers.
The deal makes plenty of sense for both sides. Thomas, 29, was set to enter the final season of his contract and is currently dealing with a hip issue. Irving, meanwhile, is four years younger and is under contract for at least the next two seasons with a player option for a third.
However, the Cavs have potentially upgraded their roster as they seek a fourth consecutive Eastern Conference crown. Crowder’s addition will take some defensive pressure off of LeBron James while adding a solid spot-up perimeter marksman. Thomas is a comparable offensive player to Irving, though he has tremendous downside defensively.
Even if James leaves next summer, which has been rumored for the last several weeks, the incoming Nets’ draft pick should help the Cavs in the event they are forced to rebuild. Brooklyn, of course, is expected to be one of the league’s worst teams again next season.
The Celtics had been reluctant to include the Nets pick in other trade offers, but Ainge clearly felt that Irving was well worth parting ways with the draft selection.
The trade also has financial implications for the Cavs, as losing Irving will save them over $29 million in luxury tax savings. Cleveland is still on the books to pay a heavy tax ($49.3 million), but it was over $78 million with Irving on the books.
Irving and Thomas will have the chance to seek revenge against their old teams almost immediately. Thomas, James and the Cavs will host Irving, Gordon Hayward, and the Celtics on the first night of the season on October 17. The Cavs whipped the Celtics in four games in their Eastern Conference Finals series this past May.
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