Kyrie Irving’s next game winning shot will be in a Celtic uniform. Yes, the two best teams in the Eastern Conference made a blockbuster deal swapping star point guards and changing the landscape of the entire conference.
After Irving made his shocking request to be traded out of Cleveland, there have been all sorts of trade rumors surrounding his landing spot. However, one team that nobody expected to be a serious contender was Boston, and now they have landed one of the most dynamic players in the game.
This was actually a very fair deal for both sides which isn’t usually the case when Danny Ainge is making the deals. The Celtics sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 Brooklyn pick in exchange for Irving. This deal makes sense for both sides, although losing Irving is a massive blow to Cleveland, getting the Brooklyn pick is a very valuable asset especially since LeBron is now all but gone from Cleveland.
For the Celtics, parting with the Brooklyn pick is a tough pill to swallow, put an acceptable one. Especially because Ainge was able to hold on to Jaylon Brown and Jayson Taytum and still has the Lakers first round pick and a few others from the Clippers and Grizzlies.
Adding Irving to a team that already features Gordon Hayward and Al Horford makes the Celtics a much more serious contender. Although Thomas is a great story, an explosive scorer, and an underrated passer, he is a liability. It’s not his fault but his 5’9 frame makes him a liability on defense. Every single player can rise up over him and you just can’t afford to have a player who is so weak defensively as your best player. Thomas was hindering the Celtics progress a bit because you can only go so far with your best player being 5’9. Also with Thomas’ contract coming to an end, he’s expecting a max contract and he’s not worth that, overall moving on from him was the right move especially in exchange for Irving.
Let’s not get confused though Irving is not a great defender, but at 6’3 he is much more capable of playing defense at a respectable and acceptable level. Irving is just a downright better player than Thomas. Kyrie averaged 25.2 points per game along with 5.8 assist and 3.2 rebounds, although Thomas did average more points per game at 28.9 points per game that’s largely due to the fact that he was really the only true scorer on the Celtics. Also Brad Stevens designed his entire system around getting Thomas the ball. A true superstar doesn’t need the coaches help to score and get good looks, he makes them on his own.
Irving has stated that he wanted out of Cleveland because he wanted to be the main guy on a team. That’s exactly what he’s getting in Boston. He is the best player on this team and he is “thrilled” about it ( Via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN). It has been reported that the Celtics pulled the trigger with the belief that Irving will resign with the Celtics long term which is fantastic news because now the Celtics have their big three set, and they can go toe to toe with anyone in the Eastern Conference.
Kyrie Irving can be a very frustrating player to watch at points. He is lackluster on defense as noted, but even on offense he can make you pull your hair out at points. Irving’s entire offense is dependent upon his isolation skills, and sometimes he becomes too dependent. However, his ability to play so good in iso situations is what makes him a superstar. It’s really his greatest offensive strength and weakness. One thing that has been proven though is that no matter what he is going to do what he does best and that’s go one-on-one against anybody no matter the situation.
There is no better example of this than when Irving went iso against Steph Curry in the waning moments of game seven of the NBA finals and hit one of the biggest shots in NBA finals history. When Irving gets going he is an unstoppable force and Boston has experienced that first hand when he dropped 42 points on them in a crucial Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
For Irving, this could affect his legacy in two ways, either he will be ridiculed for forcing his way out of a winning environment and a chance to win another title alongside the greatest player on the planet, or he will be praised for and gain the utmost respect for making his own path to greatness and taking a step to becoming a true number one on a team.
All in all this is a shocking trade that once again puts LeBron James and the Celtics at a cross road. James will certainly have a chip on his shoulder now that Irving thinks the Celtics have a better chance of winning than he does. The drama will be great, the individual performances will be great, but most importantly the games will be great. The East is now up for grabs and what better way to start off the NBA season than Celtics at Cavs on October 17th.
Don’t look now but the Celtics are quickly making themselves a true contender and easily the most interesting team in the league.
Check out some of the best social media reactions from around the NBA following the blockbuster trade here.
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