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Cavaliers and Celtics swap Irving for Thomas in blockbuster deal


The Irving-for-Thomas trade is a win for both teams. Boston becomes a real contender. Cleveland turns an unhappy Kyrie into an All-NBA point guard, size on the wing, and flexibility for the inevitable post-Lebron era.

After months of tension in Cleveland, the Cavaliers finally found a suitable trade partner for star point guard Kyrie Irving. On Tuesday evening, the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to terms of a deal that will send Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Kyrie Irving. (via the Vertical)

The trade comes on the heels of months of turmoil in Cleveland. Shortly following the untimely firing of GM David Griffin, reports leaked that Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers. Conflicting stories emerged between the camps of Irving and Lebron James, both of whom continually backed up the false narrative that there was no tension between the two stars.


After months of divergent reports, the truth revealed itself in the form of a surprise deal. Irving– fed up with playing second-fiddle to Lebron James– wants his team’s offense to revolve around him. Boston’s roster and playing style is a perfect compliment to Kyrie’s ball dominant nature and creative scoring ability. With the acquisition of Gordon Hayward this summer, Boston has established a nucleus of smart, young players– including Hayward, Al Horford, and Marcus Smart– all of whom come from winning cultures and have a team-first attitude. With tonight’s deal, the Celtics established themselves as a real contender to come out of the East and battle for the NBA Championship.

The city of Boston loses a heroic figure in Thomas, who captured the hearts and minds of Celtic fans after his All-NBA season culminated with several heroic playoff efforts immediately following the sudden death of his sister, Chyna. Thomas’ time in Boston and chemistry with Brad Stevens was a redemptive story after early career struggles. Thomas is still recovering from hip surgery, but the opportunity to play with Lebron James presents a unique degree of freedom and room to operate in an already star-studded, free-flowing offense. The Irving/Thomas swap shouldn’t take much away from the Cavs offense while adding much needed size and presence on the wing with Crowder.

The deal is particularly appealing for the Cavaliers given their shaky summer and loss to the Golden State Warriors in last year’s NBA Finals. Speculation has long emerged that Lebron James intends to depart Cleveland for the Los Angeles Lakers following the 2017-2018 season. Lebron owns a $25 million Brentwood mansion and has a budding production company, SpringHill Entertainment, based in Burbank. Lebron’s desire to be the NBA’s first active billionaire is no secret, and he even referred to Los Angeles as “home” in a recent Twitter post. Long story short, musings about Lebron’s L.A. jump are substantiated by a multitude of business, basketball, and personal reasons.

Determined to not be left at the altar a second time, Cleveland is being more realistic regarding the possibility of life after Lebron. The Irving-Thomas deal proves the Cavaliers are sensing some truth to the Lebron-L.A. rumors. If Lebron were to leave Cleveland a second time, the Cavaliers would have the cap flexibility to sign Thomas to a max deal. The acquisition of Brooklyn’s 2018 first round pick creates the possibility of rebuilding through the draft or acquiring another veteran star via trade. Aside from relieving the tension of the James-Irving saga, this deal means Cleveland is hedging its bets and stockpiling assets in a forward-thinking manner.

NBA fans won’t have to wait long for some on-court excitement surrounding this drama filled deal. The Celtics and Cavaliers open the season on October 17 in Cleveland, and will most likely be squaring off deep into May. A 2018 Eastern Conference Finals without both the Cavaliers and Celtics will be almost as surprising as Tuesday night’s star-studded roster shakeup.

Patrick DeChillo