Kyrie for IT
Aug 24, 2017
by Chase Gage
BOSTON — My favorite team is the Celtics. My favorite player is LeBron James. It has taken some time for me to fully process this trade.
My heart breaks to see Isaiah Thomas leave. He truly represented what it was to be a Celtic, just as Bill Russell, Larry Bird and Paul Pierce did before him. Heart over height, will over skill, and the refusal to lose drove IT4 to be one of the best players in the league. His story is nothing short of phenomenal. The last pick of the 2011 draft that was playing for his third team reaches the Eastern Conference Finals while being the third leading scorer in the NBA. His sister passes away in a car accident and he plays a playoff game the next day. He then drops 53 points in a playoff game. Then, the 60th pick of the 2011 draft gets traded for the 1st pick in the same draft. On his new team, that 60th pick will start over the first overall pick from the 2008 draft. That’s a pretty amazing story if you ask me. Oh, and he’s five-foot-nine. I forgot to mention that part.
It’s not all bad for Thomas. He does get to play alongside LeBron James now, which is always a plus. He may even get a ring out of it.
I am also excited to get a player like Kyrie Irving. It feels like when the Celtics landed Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, with Kyrie playing KG and Hayward playing Allen. The only problem being that Pierce (Thomas) is not there in the middle of the mix. However, this will be an exciting team to watch for years to come.
Who won this trade? I’ll lay all my affiliations and biases aside to analyze this question that has been haunting me for the last two days. I think I finally have my answer. But first, let’s look at the argument on both sides.
Argument for the Cavaliers:
- Kyrie was more of a ball-dominate point guard than IT is. Now LeBron and IT can practically split time at the point guard position.
- Neither Kyrie nor IT are thought of as good defenders, so the lack of defense from Thomas isn’t much of a downfall.
- Thomas has proven that he can lead a team to the top seed in the East and make it to the ECF without another superstar alongside him. Now, he has the greatest player of our generation on his team.
- The Cavs are nothing short of awful when LeBron is not on the floor. Now, Thomas has the chance to change that notion and lead the team while LeBron is on the bench. If he can do it in Boston, surely he can do it in Cleveland.
- Also, while LeBron is on the bench, the Cavaliers have an actual Small Forward that can sub in. Jae Crowder is not an elite three by any means, but he is a physical player with a big body that can make an impact while James takes a breather. Not to mention he already has chemistry with Thomas.
- The Nets pick may still be a top-five pick in next years’ draft. Pretty cool, right?
- The Celtics now only have four remaining members of the 2017 ECF team: Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown. I would say that gives the Cavs the upper hand in terms of who the favorite is in the East.
Argument for the Celtics
- Kyrie Irving has the potential to be a generational player. He has been nothing short of spectacular while sharing the spotlight with LeBron. Now that he has a chance to be his own man, could he end up being the Kobe to LeBron’s Shaq?
- Even though they lost IT, newly acquired star Gordon Hayward had no chemistry with any of the Celtics anyway. Adding another star to the mix doesn’t hurt chemistry that wasn’t going to be there anyway.
- The Celtics passed on a chance to get Markelle Fultz in the draft. Now, that seems like a smart move if they can get Kyrie to stay long-term. He is the point guard of the future.
- Kyrie is only 25 years old, while IT is 28. He has more upside and has yet to hit his prime while IT is in his prime right now. Oh, and Kyrie is better at 25 than IT is at 28, though not by a huge margin.
- The Celtics were able to hold onto their pair of number three picks, Brown and Tatum, while also getting a solid point guard to run the floor with Hayward. This is a core that can grow together into something great.
- The Celtics turned Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce into Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (plus some draft picks), while also freeing up the space to sign Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. Then take a look at the Nets. Makes you think, huh?
- The Nets pick that they gave up does not have the same value that it did before the Nets signed DeAngelo Russell. It looked to be a guaranteed top-three pick, now it may fall a bit lower.
- With Crowder gone, there is room for rookie Tatum and second year Brown to grow while Hayward assumes the small forward spot, freeing up the two-guard position.
So who won?
- In the short term, the Cavaliers. The Cavs will be better next year than they were this year and the Celtics may not be quite as good. They were already the early favorites to make the Finals in the East, and should now be the strong favorites.
- In the long term, the Celtics. If LeBron leaves town, the Celtics will be in a position to win the East right away. If he stays, give it a few more years until he gets old and Kyrie hits his prime with Tatum and Brown starting to hit their stride. That will be a dangerous team. Also, the Celtics still don’t have what it takes to beat Golden State even if they made the Finals, so why rush it?
Both teams won this trade. It gives the Cavaliers what they need to be able to compete with Golden State now, and gives the Celtics what they need to be serious contenders when the Cleveland vs Golden State era finally ends.
Either way, this will be a fun year to be an NBA fan.