Breaking: Kyrie Irving traded to Celtics in Blockbuster Trade

Tuesday nights in late August are generally reserved for three things when it comes to the sports news cycle; Major League Baseball, Pre-Season NFL Football and the Little League World Series. However, in 2017, the NBA refused to be outdone as superstar point guard Kyrie Irving was granted his wish to be traded out of Cleveland. The lucky suitor? None other than Cleveland’s toughest competition in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics. In a rare trade between inter-conference rivals, the Cavs sent Hoop Group alum Kyrie Irving to the Celtics in exchange for Isiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets 2018 1st round pick (which figures to be a top 3-5 pick next summer). Let’s take a look at how each addition will add to their respective rosters, how this effects the Eastern Conference race and how the two teams now stack up against each other.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics added Kyrie Irving in Tuesday’s blockbuster trade. While he brings a lot of similar skills to the table as Isaiah Thomas, Irving is bigger, a better scorer and is someone Boston can solidify as the face of the franchise for the next decade. Irving will be a slight upgrade on defense from IT, mainly due to his size, and Marcus Smart will be a perfect compliment as a backup for Irving to help mask those defensive deficiencies that still plague Irving. With the acquisition of Irving the Celtics lineup will probably be the following:

Kyrie Irving
Gordon Hayward
Jaylen Brown
Marcus Morris
Al Horford

Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier figure to play key roles off the bench. This lineup will be better offensively than the ’16-’17 outfit and slightly worse defensively across the board. The Celtics still did not address the glaring rebounding issues from last season. However, on sheer talent, this will be the toughest team LeBron has had to deal with in the East in a long time. It will be interesting to see how they mesh together under Brad Stevens. The Celtics also parted with a lot of assets to get Irving. Irving is a slight upgrade over Thomas, but Crowder will fit in perfectly with the Cavs and the Nets pick figures to be top 5 in what is shaping up to be a LOADED 2018 NBA draft. Irving will fit in seamlessly in Boston, but is it enough to dethrone the King? Only time will tell. Regardless, if they fall short in ’17-’18, Danny Ainge has set the Celtics up to be one of the premier teams in the East for the foreseeable future, and the conference favorites if LeBron bolts West next summer.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland picked up two impact roster pieces, a likely top 5 pick in June of 2018 and depth in the front court for parting with Irving. Isaiah Thomas will be able to pickup the scoring slack left behind by Irving and give LeBron a great 2nd option offensively. Thomas also allows Cleveland to limit the minutes of Derrick Rose in the hopes that he can stay healthy and effective, especially come playoff time. Thomas is a net negative defensively, and imaging Thomas/Rose chasing around the Warriors in the finals (if they make it) is a nightmare that will haunt Cavs fans come June 2018 (again if they beat the Celtics). Crowder is a perfect compliment to the Cavs offense, an upgrade over the current wing players on the roster and will toughen up the Cavs perimeter defense. Zizic was a 2016 1st round selection for the Celtics and has potential to become a solid piece for the Cavs well beyond the ’17-’18 campaign, as will the pick coming from the Nets for the 2018 draft. The Cavs lineup figures to be the following:

Isaiah Thomas
Jae Crowder
Lebron James
Kevin Love
Tristan Thompson

Rose, Smith, Shumpert, Green and Korver will all see minutes off of the bench for Cleveland, although it will be interesting to see if they make any deals towards the deadline and how they will tighten their rotations over the course of the season. Overall, I think this trade does not hurt the Cavs and does nothing to unseat them as the favorites in the East next year. They still have the best player on the planet, 2 other all-stars and a good crew of role players. LeBron is a year older and the Celtics are supremely talented, but I refuse to pick against the King in the Eastern Conference until someone dethrones him. However, this move does not make them a more dangerous threat to Golden State or whoever happens to come out of the West.

A month ago Kyrie bet on himself, requesting a trade to leave from under LeBron’s wing and join a team where he is the man. In Boston he will get the opportunity to do just that and dethrone the King along the way. While the NBA offseason is one of the best dramas going today, I, for one, cannot wait for this NBA season to tip-off as the Cavs and Celtics open up against each other in October. 2017-2018 is shaping up to be one of the best NBA seasons in a long time.

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