After Game 5 of the NBA Finals as the Golden State Warriors celebrated another championship, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James embraced one another in the tunnel and James said, “we’ll be back,” and Cavaliers fans were hopeful.
Two months later Kyrie is now a member of the Boston Celtics.
What has transpired over the last four weeks has been an unlikely and often times too crazy to even be believable. From Irving first demanding the trade, to LeBron reportedly being mad at Kyrie and finally to Irving supposedly going days without talking to teammates.
This saga had enough moments for a Hollywood drama.
Kyrie Irving went days at a time without speaking to teammates during this year's NBA Playoffs. Details:https://t.co/FdKbUxgSWi
— LegionHoops.com (@LegionWebsite) August 11, 2017
What is even crazier about this entire situation is that Irving ended up in Boston, a team considered to be the Cavaliers toughest competition in the Eastern Conference.
Boston, who had a closet full of assets to deal, gave up a lot to acquire Irving, who is an elite level scorer, but is a below average defender and has a history of getting injured. The Celtics passed up on Jimmy Butler and Paul George this offseason but pulled the trigger on acquiring Kyrie.
The question to be asked is why did the Celtics now decide to make a deal for a top-level player? Was it because Irving is just 25 and now entering the prime of his career? Or was it because he still has two years left on his deal and will likely re-sign?
You can more than likely answer yes to those questions. It was a mixture of reasons, but the talent Irving possesses is second-to-none, and in a guard dominated league, Kyrie is one of the best in the business.
Kyrie’s last game in Quicken Loans Arena, which was Game 4 of the NBA Finals, displayed his full arsenal of talent. In this game the Cavaliers beat the Warriors to extend the NBA Finals and Kyrie was sensational. The 25-year-old star dropped 40 points, shot 15-27 (55.9 percent) from the floor and drained seven three pointers.
His ability to get to the hoop, handle the ball with ease and make the leagues best defenders look silly makes him a lethal offensive weapon.
Now to give up a player with the talent level that Irving possesses, the Cavaliers needed to get back a haul. That is exactly what they got back from the Celtics. Boston sent all-star point guard Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland along with forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zicic and the coveted Brooklyn Nets unprotected first round pick in 2018.
We know what to expect from Thomas, he is a player similar to Irving in terms of scoring and shooting ability. The talent level is not the same, but Thomas is a rough and tough player who will be highly motivated to play well in a contract year.
Cavalier fans know exactly who Crowder is from the NBA playoffs back in 2015 when he was involved in a altercation with Cleveland guard J.R. Smith. Crowder, who is 6-6 and 235 pounds, is a player who will not back down and is a talented young wing defender on a team-friendly deal.
Look up a “Three and D” player in the NBA dictionary and you will find a picture of Crowder.
Zicic is 20-year-old center who will likely be a project for the Cavaliers. However the hope for the team is that he will give them a backup center in the short term and hopefully a starting caliber center further down the road.
Now on to potentially the biggest piece of this blockbuster trade, the Nets unprotected first round pick for next season’s draft. The Nets, who have been the doormat for the NBA the last several years, are still feeling the affects of the awful trade they made with Boston back in 2013.
This is a pick that Boston general manager Danny Ainge held onto with his life and refused to give up when talks about acquiring another superstar came up in the last couple years.
For now the Cavaliers will hang onto that pick. However, with an asset that will be attractive to all other teams in the NBA, especially if Brooklyn is awful once again, Cleveland could very well deal that pick to another team in return for another star to win now.
Remember now, LeBron is not a fan of playing with young players right out of college, that is well documented, (see the Andrew Wiggins trade when he first came back.)
For now the Cavaliers still will hold the top spot in the East, but Boston is now nipping at their heels. With Irving, along with Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Marcus Morris, Boston is an interesting team and solidify them as the No. 2 team in the East.
Another reason why the Cavaliers were motivated to complete this deal, is the fact that the trade of Irving cut their projected luxury tax bill by nearly $30 million for the 2017-18 season.
One thing is for sure, that October 17th game between the Cavaliers and Celtics now has an added element. It will be an excellent way to kick off a new season of basketball.
Fans will be waiting for that moment when LeBron switches onto Kyrie and the two former teammates, who laid it all on the line to win a championship, go at each other for the first time as rivals.