by Will Price, ’18
After a month of rumors, Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving was finally traded to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets first round draft pick in the 2018 draft, and a 2020 2nd round pick.
Irving, who requested a trade in mid-July, was reportedly unhappy playing with LeBron James. With Boston, Irving has a chance to be the premier player on a championship level team without the added drama playing with James has added.
Playing alongside James for the past three seasons, Irving was one of the premier scorers in the NBA. His most memorable moment was his shot to beat the Golden State Warriors and win Cleveland their first professional sports championship in 52 years. Irving averaged 25.2 PPG and 5.8 APG in his final season in Cleveland. At just 25, Irving is a potential star as his reaches the prime years of his career.
In return, the Cavaliers receive Thomas, who ironically was the last pick in the 2011 draft. Thomas has risen to stardom since being traded to the Celtics, and last year was the third highest scorer in the NBA at 28.9 PPG.
However, Thomas suffered a hip injury at the end of last season that knocked him out for the final three games of the Celtics’ playoff run. There hasn’t been a timetable announced, but some reports suggest Thomas could be out up until February.
The injury initially held up the trade from completion, but the 2020 2nd rounder was added as the deal was officially completed late on August 30th. For his part, Thomas said the hip was a non-issue.
“I am not damaged.” Thomas said in an interview with ESPN on August 29th. “I’ll be back, and I’ll be the same player.”
Crowder has been a crucial part in Boston’s resurgence the last three seasons. He averaged 13.9 PPG last season and is a solid perimeter defender. He will add good depth for Cleveland and is on a very cheap deal, owed about 22$ million over the next three seasons.
Zizic was the 23rd pick in the 2016 draft, and is a promising Croatian prospect at just 20 years old. Zizic is currently playing in the Adriatic Basketball Association for the Turkish club Darussafaka Dogus, who are currently coached by former Cavaliers head coach David Blatt.
The #1 pick from Brooklyn might be the most important part of the deal. The Nets have been one of the worst teams in the league over the past three seasons, meaning the Cavaliers have a good chance at receiving a high pick in next year’s draft. With potential stars like Michael Porter Jr. of Missouri and Marvin Bagley III of Duke likely to enter the draft, the Cavaliers could pick someone as the heir to LeBron’s throne as he enters his 15th NBA season, as well as rumors LeBron may leave Cleveland for a second time in the summer of 2018.
Irving’s highly anticipated return to Cleveland will be the first game of the year for both teams, taking place the night of Tuesday, October 17th.