Kyrie Irving, one of the best basketball players in the NBA, is now a Boston Celtic. The Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyrie to Boston for one of the Celtics most popular players, Isaiah Thomas.
Already, one Boston fan I know has mixed feelings about the trade. Thomas was the most popular player on a Boston team that hadn't had a true popular player since, as he put it, Larry Bird. What my friend meant by that is Larry Legend embraced being a Celtic.
Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett never really did. Isaiah embraced being a Celtic just like Larry Legend. He also questioned whether the trade was a good enough one for Boston to beat Cleveland in the Eastern Conference.
Below, I attempt to answer that question.
The Kyrie Trade
Kyrie Irving made no bones about it. He wanted out of Cleveland. Boston gets Kyrie Irving. Cleveland gets Boston's 2018 Round 1 pick. They also get Isaiah Thomas, who averaged 29 points per game last season, as well as Jae Crowder.
Before getting into how Thomas and Crowder might help Cleveland, I want to discuss the Celtics new possible starting 5. Check it out:
PG – Kyrie Irving
SG – Marcus Smart
SF – Gordon Hayward
PF – Marcus Morris
C – Al Horford
The starting 5 implies that the Celtics run the offense through Kyrie, which is the traditional way to run a basketball offense. That won't be an issue because Kyrie has ball-handling skills like mad. Marcus Smart is also a terrific ball-handler.
The frontline might be the most formidable in the NBA this season. Hayward is one of the Top 5 best overall players in the NBA. Horford is one of the top centers in the NBA. Morris is the key here. If Morris plays the way he usually does, the Boston Celtics might win their first Eastern Conference Championship since 2010.
But, it's not like Cleveland didn't come out of the trade smelling like a rose. As Chris Herring wrote in his FiveThirtyEight article on ESPN.com, the Cavaliers not only unloaded Kyrie, who wasn't happy, but they also prepared for LeBron's possible exit.
You can read about the specifics regarding that in Chris' article. Right now, I want to project Cleveland's starting 5:
PG – Derek Rose
SG – Isaiah Thomas
SF – LeBron James
PF – Kevin Love
C – Tristan Thompson
The key for Cleveland's 2017-2018 NBA Season is Derek Rose's health. Although Thomas has mad skills, he's never been the true point-guard that Derek Rose has always been when healthy. If Rose is at 100%, he could turn into an 8 assist a night point-guard.
Rose won't have to score like he has during his entire career. Thomas can run off screens and shoot the 3. Or, Isaiah can take handoffs from LeBron or Rose, and go to the hoop. Rose is the key to this year's Cleveland Cavaliers' team.
Jae Crowder can play either SF, PF, or C. He has great defensive skills in both the paint and on the perimeter. Crowder could be a huge factor for Cleveland in the NBA Playoffs.
So, which team figures to challenge the Golden State Warriors in next year's NBA Championship Series? I'm going with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Derek Rose, like everyone else that played home games at Madison Garden, was stuck under the divisive management style of one Phil Jackson.
Rose is a former NBA MVP. With the pressure off, LeBron takes all the pressure in Cleveland, Rose could excel. As Rose excels so will Isaiah Thomas who won't have to worry about getting his teammates involved and can just go out there and shoot the rock.
That makes the Cleveland Cavaliers, again, the team to beat in the NBA Eastern Conference.