It has been a relatively quiet August, even for an NBA offseason. That all changed last night, when it was reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers had traded disgruntled point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for a neat little package of Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 unprotected Brooklyn Nets first round pick.
Cleveland and Boston have agreement on deal to send Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas package to Cavs, sources tell The Vertical
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 22, 2017
Just by reading that brief summary, one would think the Cavs are getting the better end of the deal. Though perhaps initially true, this trade is multi-layered in its complexity, making it almost impossible to truly decide who’s come out on top.
Before diving in, it’s imperative for us to establish that this is not a bad trade for anyone. There are significant pros for both teams, some of which might not reveal themselves for several months. Got it, reactionary NBA Twitter? Now, let’s go deep.
On Isaiah vs Kyrie:
Statistically, the two are comparable. Last season, Kyrie was averaging 25.2 points per game to IT’s 28.9. Kyrie shot 40 per cent from the three-point line, while Thomas hit 37.9 per cent of his threes.
It’s unorthodox to trade players that read so similarly on paper. Irving and Thomas are the first players in NBA history who averaged over 25 points the previous season to ever be traded for each other. The nuances of this are truly in the details.
The chances of the Celtics backing up the Brinks truck for Thomas, who turned 28 in February, was unlikely. The point guard had essentially announced that he would be seeking the max upon his contract ending and it just didn’t make sense to award it to him. Age is a huge factor in that, as well as the hip injury that he struggled with through the playoffs. It’s too tough to say if IT would’ve aged well in Boston, and frankly, I don’t even want to entertain the concept. The emotional ramifications of trading a player like Isaiah has already reduced half the Boston fanbase to tears, myself included.
In mourning the loss of Thomas, he is still one of the better point guards and passers in the league. He’ll work well with LeBron and Kevin Love, despite his defensive weaknesses. A huge factor will be his health going forward. The hip injury he struggled with through the playoffs played a role in the trade and could turn into a major downside for the Cavs if it continues. Should he stay healthy, don’t expect the Cavs to be worse this season. They’re probably still a lock for The Finals.
Irving solves the issue of youth and also gives the Celtics a valuable weapon who can score off the dribble at will. Irving will get a chance to be a true leader on offense, instead of being overshadowed by LeBron. If Brad Stevens can get him to buy into the system, Kyrie will be immensely dangerous, especially with Gordon Hayward spotting up on the perimeter and Al Horford on the block. Just typing that gives me chills.
The only issue with Irving is why he left Cleveland. His desire to be the go-to guy could clash immensely with the team-first culture that the Celtics have strived to build. Had Boston retained their motley crew of dependable role players, Kyrie would’ve gotten exactly the kind of situation he wanted. Instead, Boston traded guys like Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, and signed another superstar in Gordon Hayward. The potential for Kyrie is so high, but it will depend on how he feels about sharing the spotlight with Hayward. In this case, I feel as if Brad Stevens will play a huge role in maintaining the identity of his team, which is virtually unrecognizable from last season.
On Crowder & Zizic:
Losing Jae Crowder is a huge loss for the Cs. Crowder was arguably the most reliable of the Celtics role players, providing a tenacious defensive presence on the wing and hitting 40 per cent of his threes. His passion and energy was a huge part of the Celtics culture and the idea of him and Tristan Thompson on the same team is exciting. Both players are physical presences that allow an aging LeBron a bit of a break, while still giving him options both on the block and from the perimeter.
Speaking of physical, Ante Zizic will also be an interesting prospect to watch as he goes into his first NBA season. It’s almost impossible to decide if he’s a true asset yet, but he has the potential to do some damage as a rookie. He looked hungry in Summer League and the Cavs could definitely use another big who isn’t afraid to be a presence in the post. Too soon to say, but Zizic could definitely turn into an unexpected bonus for the Cavs.
On the Pick:
Personally, I was attached to this pick. The 2018 Nets first round pick is unprotected and almost 110 per cent guarantees its owner a talented player. The class of 2018 is crazy. Marvin Bagley and Canadian wunderkind R.J. Barrett have both reclassified, adding even more talent to an already stacked draft. There was a reason Danny Ainge clung so fiercely to this pick. Cleveland now has the opportunity to sustain their success, while building for a potentially LeBron-less future.
Cleveland has done an admirable job here considering that a month ago they were without a GM. They will do well in the Eastern Conference this year, but that could be affected by Thomas’ health. Ultimately, they’ve begun to set themselves up for the future without blowing it up entirely.
When it comes to the Celtics, “young” is the key word here. Expect Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to stir up buzz and mesh well with their older counterparts. Marcus Morris is a valuable addition that people seem to have forgotten about. The Cavs may be building for the future, but the Celtics have already built theirs. Now, it’s just a matter of watching it all play out.
Ride The Wave
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things were good then.
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers, drawing in a decent support team and a lot of talk that the West was looking incredibly dominant next to a “weaker” East. Things were good then.
Five months later and things couldn’t be farther from that idylistic picture. The East thrived without the King and GMs put together some of the most noteworthy teams in a while. And the Lakers? The Lakers currently sit in the 11th spot of the Western Conference with very little hope of making it to the playoffs. They’re a team that is constantly attacked for their lack of chemistry, skill, and effort. For the first time in a long time, LA became synonymous with “hopeless”.
This wasn’t the future we saw for the King.
On the heels of a night filled with one of his greatest achievements ever, the Lakers as a team walked away with a loss to the Denver Nuggets. A night that began on a high note went out on one that was equivalent to sour candy. Furthermore, a frustrated team left an arena, hopped on social media, and found a bevy of congrats for their star player, while enduring the storm that came with another Lakers loss.
It seems that James’ stardom has reached a tipping point, one that makes him a GM one moment, the King of the league the next, and finally the biggest point of contention within the locker room. The most notable thing is that it is clearly wearing him down. Chris Martin let us know that “nobody one said it was easy”, but you’ve got to ask yourself, does it have to be so hard?
The answer is unfortunately, yes. It’s always going to be this way, and there is no fighting the current, but there is beauty in riding the wave. Embracing that moment when the wave comes crashing down on you is important, because it’s always going to happen, but your attitude will always be remembered. LeBron rides high, and keeps things in the positive light for the media, but he’s got to realize that they are writing his story, and he doesn’t have to play into their’s. Ride the wave, and take the loss in stride with all the great that has come with it, but take the loss because your part of a team that is.
The wave has crashed down, but the current will bring another.
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
Year 15 of a legacy…
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.
We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.
Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.
It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.
We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.
I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.
Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.
The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).
Stay tuned, because it’s not over.
Ride The Wave
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
An Ode to the 2007-2008 Warriors
USA VS EVERYBODY | The Break | Episode 17
Trading Places | The Break | Episode 18
Christmas Day Showdowns | The Break | Episode 10
Western Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 1
Eastern Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 2
NBA & More Mailbag with Josh Howe — TWT 102
Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview with Keith Parish — TWT 101
Ride The Wave
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things...
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
Year 15 of a legacy...
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau....
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