After six years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving has been traded to the Boston Celtics. Irving gave the franchise new hope in it’s darkest moments after the decision and was a talented enough player to help lure LeBron James back to Cleveland. He had a knack for stepping up in big moments and hit the shot to bring the Cavs their first ever title. Now that he’s gone, it’s time to evaluate where that leaves the Cavs.
Trading Irving to a conference rival makes things very interesting. Cavs vs, Celtics was already a marquee match-up and one of the opening night games for the league. Now there’s the added juice of the Irving vs. LeBron battles, which will make for must see TV in the regular season and playoffs.
But beyond the interesting narratives, how did Koby Altman do in his first major test as general manager? The situation was far from easy and the knowledge that Irving wanted out worked against the team as they tried to maintain leverage. Rumored offerings of Eric Bledsoe and Dragan Bender were underwhelming, and there was concern that the team wouldn’t get a meaningful return. While questions remain following the deal, there’s no doubt that the Cavs got a fair amount of Danny Ainge’s coveted assets in return.
Isaiah Thomas, Jay Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round pick, unprotected.
Trade Grade: A
Given the position the Cavs were in and the rumored offers that were out there, this deal blows away the other proposed trades. IThomas finished fifth in MVP voting last season, and Crowder is a great asset against the Golden State Warriors.
Zizic looked bad in summer league, but he’s a seven-foot center that plays with an edge and was drafted No. 23 overall last season. He’s just 20 years old and shot 64.9 percent in Europe last season. His coach in Europe was David Blatt, which is also a hilarious connection.
Those three assets together represent a fairly good return for the Cavs in the short-term. There are some questions about the health of Thomas, how he’ll fit on the team, as well as what the team should do with him moving forward. But overall he’s still a very effective replacement for Irving.
Getting the unprotected draft pick from the Nets ensures that the team will have a decent shot at a high pick in next year’s draft. Altman pulled off a deal that keeps the Cavs in contention and gives them a future asset that they sorely needed. While it hurts doing business with a conference rival, it’s hard to imagine the team doing better than this in any deal. The short term assets are mostly all proven, and the future asset has a good chance of yielding a good piece for years to come.