Cavaliers in a better position after trading out Kyrie Irving

It’s not often that an NBA organisation can trade out one of its key pieces and come out of the other end looking stronger than before. However, in the case of the Cleveland Cavaliers, that’s exactly what has happened.

The Cavs had to part ways with four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving this off-season. This came after Irving requested a trade as he desired a move which would send him to a franchise where he could lead as the number one option. ESPN sources reported that Irving no longer wanted to play under LeBron James.

As soon as the news that Irving wanted out of Cleveland broke, the Cavs were put on the backfoot. NBA teams tend to offer less value if the desired talent is looking to leave his city. However, with no news of any trade offers prior, it was announced that the Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics agreed to a deal which would see Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic joining the Cavs.

At first glance, Boston seem to have this deal won as they add Irving to their already highly talented offensive list. With Irving’s incredible handles and ability to get to the rim at will, the Celtics are a dangerous offensive unit. So, Boston definitely got the better end of the deal, right? Well, no; the acquisition of Kyrie Irving came at a cost. That cost was the Celtics undisputed MVP last season Isaiah Thomas, as well as Crowder, Zizic and a valuable Brooklyn Nets 2018 first round draft pick.

It can’t be said that Boston come out looking bad after this trade, after all Irving brings commercial value to the team that it hasn’t had in a long time, as well as championship experience; but what the Cavs were able to muster up for a player that was looking to leave their organisation is impressive. The team was able to get something it has been lacking since LeBron James’ return in 2014, depth. Alongside their signing of former MVP Derrick Rose, the Cavs added Crowder, a defensive specialist, to help their poor defence which was ranked 21st in the league last season.

Also, wing defence was something which could’ve come in very handy in the NBA finals as the Cavs couldn’t hang with the firepower of the Golden State Warriors. As the old saying says, defences win championships, and with the acquisition of Crowder, the Cavs get that much better defensively.

Unfortunately, in the case of Isaiah Thomas, he did sustain an injury during last season and is out indefinitely. Reports say that the worst case scenario is that it is a career-ending injury; however, Thomas is adamant he will be back, “I’m not damaged. I’ll be back.” he said.

Isiah Thomas grimacing after suffering injury last season

Thomas is currently rehabbing injuries to his right hip, as well as the major issue, a torn labrum. There is no official timetable for his return as the doctors are unsure. Many athletes have suffered the same injury in the past and have all come through with different results. In the case of Martell Webster, he was unable to make a return to the NBA after he tore his labrum. However, in Jordan Hill’s case in 2013, he was able to return in a mere 3 months.

The uncertainty of Isaiah Thomas’ injury does negatively affect the Cavs; but if he’s able to return as half the player he used to be, he, alongside LeBron James, can cause serious damage around the league.

The last vital piece of the trade is the 2018 Brooklyn Nets draft pick. A valuable trade asset which may help strengthen the 2017-18 Cleveland Cavaliers, or it could act as an insurance pick with which they could pick up a future star, in case James decides to leave his hometown team once again.

It’s well documented that James likes to play with veterans, and there’s a certain Carmelo Anthony’s name being thrown around in trade rumours. If the Cavs are able to land Anthony it undoubtedly closes the proverbial gap between them and the NBA champions Golden State Warriors.

However, Jason Lloyd from The Athletic has, from speaking to people in Cleveland, “a hard time believing they’re going to trade that pick,” via the Vertical.

Either way, the Cavaliers were able to obtain key pieces on their road to a fourth straight NBA final and their second championship in 3 years. Brilliantly done by the front office to flip the loss of an upset Irving into such a positive situation.

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