Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving: How the Cavs’ Massive Trade Just Changed Everything

Kyrie Irving goes for the steal against Isaiah Thomas.
It is happening; Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas are trading places. | Elsa/Getty Images

For the most part, this offseason has been nothing short of a disaster for the Cleveland Cavaliers. With one shocking move, however, it appears as if the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs, might finally be heading toward the light. Then again, that “light” could just be the brightness resonating from the star power of easily the most shocking trade in the NBA this summer.

Kyrie Irving wanted out of town, and the Cavaliers, with a little help from the Boston Celtics made it happen. In exchange for the superstar point guard, the C’s traded Cleveland a stud PG of their own in Isaiah Thomas, along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Net’s unprotected first-round pick in 2018. And just like that, things in the Eastern Conference will never been the same. Here’s a look at our initial thoughts on the monster move between these two NBA contenders.

Irving gets ‘his team’

Kyrie Irving gestures to the crowd.
Kyrie Irving gets his wish. | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

A big reason why Irving requested a trade was because he wanted to step out of LeBron James’ shadow. With this surprising twist of events, the four-time All-Star gets his wish. In their new point guard, the Boston Celtics get an offensively-gifted point guard with a sick handle who averaged 25.2 points per game and shot 47.3% from the field in 2016–17.

Best of all, Kyrie is just 25 years old and still has two years remaining on his contract (technically, it’s three years, but Irving can opt out of the deal after the 2018–19 season). Irving is now officially “the man” in Boston. Here’s to hoping he’s ready for it.

Cavaliers improve defensively

Jae Crowder #99 of the Boston Celtics and Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Boston Celtics celebrate.
The Cavs add depth and defense. | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Everyone knows what Isaiah Thomas brings to the table. Last year, the 5-foot-9 point guard, who made his second straight All-Star team, averaged 28.9 points a night, knocked down 37.9% of his three-point shots, and emerged as one of the most clutch players in the game. He’s most certainly going to be a beast for the Cavs offensively. However, the acquisition of Jae Crowder may turn out to be the most important aspect of the deal.

Crowder is everything you could possibly want out of a 3-and-D player. Not only did he shoot 39.8% from three last season, he displayed toughness and versatility on the defensive end of the floor, showcasing an ability to guard multiple positions on the floor. Crowder is the sort of player who can help lighten the load on James defensively come playoff time. We can’t stress how important this is.

Celtics stay true to their timeline

Gordon Hayward warms up before a game.
The Boston Celtics have high hopes for Gordon Hayward. | Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

While Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge is well-aware he paid a steep price to acquire Irving, he also feels pretty good about the deal. Said Ainge of the trade: “It is a high price tag. But acquiring a 25-year-old perennial All-Star, a player that fits a timeline for us and is a fantastic offensive player, one of the best offensive players in the league, you have to pay a heavy price.”

The Celtics are preparing to be contenders in the present and the future. This move helps the roster get younger now while ensuring it won’t be over-the-hill when the youth movement of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum start to come into their own. Remember, big-time free agent signing Gordon Hayward is also just 27 years old. It’s safe to say the Celtics are remaining firmly committed to their timeline.

Cavaliers have an eye on the future

Koby Altman speaks into the mic.
Koby Altman is currently the man behind the scenes with the Cavaliers. | Source: YouTube via Positive Coaching Alliance

The Cavaliers don’t know if James is going to leave town after the 2017–18 season, but they have no plans to be caught off guard should it happen. This trade assures that.

Outside of Thomas and Crowder, Cleveland acquired a young center with high upside in Ante Zizic, and most importantly, Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick in 2018. Given how awful the Nets have been over the left few seasons, this pick could wind up being a top-five selection. Losing the King would suck for the Cavs, but at least, this time, the organization won’t be in complete disarray.

Even more motivation for LeBron

LeBron James dunks the rock.
LeBron James is ready to regain the crown. | Elsa/Getty Images

Despite what’s been reported, James showed nothing but respect to Irving on Twitter after the trade was announced.

Still, if LeBron needed any more motivation to continue his string of dominance in the Eastern Conference, this swap of All-Star players with the rival Boston Celtics should do it. Apparently, Irving didn’t want to play with James anymore. That’s fine. Just know that playing against the King is infinitely more hard than sharing the court with him. Be careful what you wish for, Kyrie.

Official changing of the guard in the East?

LeBron and the Cavs are interviewed after beating Boston in the ECF.
The Cavaliers remain the beast of the East. | Elise Amendola-Pool/Getty Images

Everyone knows the Celtics earned the No. 1 seed in the East last season. Of course, that didn’t stop Cleveland from humiliating Boston in five games in the Eastern Conference Finals and making a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.

The C’s might have secured the most talented player in the trade in Irving. But this deal doesn’t exactly help them leapfrog the Cavs as the best team in the conference. If anything, all it did was help make Cleveland more equipped to handle a possible fourth straight meeting with the Warriors.

Statistics and information courtesy of Basketball-Reference and ESPN.